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Dittrich v. Advanced Medical Imaging of North Jersey

July 1, 2008


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Bergen County, Docket No. C-158-07.

Per curiam.


Argued May 7, 2008

Before Judges Lisa and Lihotz.

Plaintiff, Vesselin Dittrich, on the recommendation of his doctor, defendant Kenneth Cerny, M.D., underwent a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of his lumbar and cervical spine on May 7, 2007, performed by defendant Advanced Medical Imaging of New Jersey, L.L.C. (AMI). At the conclusion of the test, plaintiff paid fifty dollars and AMI provided him with a copy of his films. AMI declined plaintiff's contemporaneous request for the immediate release of the radiologist's interpretative report, identifying the results of the MRI. AMI had sent a copy of the report to plaintiff's primary care physician and Dr. Cerny. AMI contacted Dr. Cerny, who instructed AMI not to release the report to plaintiff. Dr. Cerny requested plaintiff schedule an appointment with him to review the positive findings on the MRI. AMI advised plaintiff the report would be available in thirty days. See N.J.A.C. 13:35-6.5(c)(1).

Plaintiff, not satisfied with this delay or the need to again see Dr. Cerny, which he viewed as a wrongfully imposed pre-condition to the report's release, filed an order to show cause (OTSC) and a one count complaint against AMI on May 16, 2007. Plaintiff's complaint sought release of the report and payment of the cost of suit. Judge Doyne denied the request for temporary relief as AMI acknowledged its obligation to release the report in thirty days. The matter was rescheduled for June 12, 2007.

Plaintiff filed an amended single count complaint and request for temporary relief. The complaint added Dr. Cerny and his professional association, Neuroscience Center of Northern New Jersey (NC) as party defendants and requested NC and Dr. Cerny "cease and desist" from future interference with the release of his medical records. The matter was reviewed on May 25, 2007. Prior to that hearing, AMI transmitted the two-page MRI report to plaintiff by facsimile. Judge Doyne ordered dismissal of plaintiff's amended complaint.

Knowing his complaint was ordered dismissed, and without benefit of a motion, plaintiff filed a second amended complaint and request for temporary relief. The pleading added counts seeking compensatory and punitive damages for "defendants' conspiratorial conduct and intentional retaliatory acts against plaintiff" along with intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and reckless and gross negligence.

On June 8, 2007, Judge Doyne filed the order dismissing, with prejudice and without costs, plaintiff's complaint, amended complaint, and second amended complaint. Plaintiff sought reconsideration of the order, filing his motion on July 18, 2007. Following the hearing on August 10, 2007, plaintiff's request for reconsideration was denied. Additionally, the order noted no preclusion prevented plaintiff's pursuit of a damage claim in the Law Division.

On appeal, plaintiff argues the court erred, abusing its discretion in denying his requests for preliminary relief, denying an injunction to prevent Dr. Cerny from future interference with his medical care, dismissing his second amended complaint seeking damages, and denying an award of costs of suit. Additionally, plaintiff presents identified technical violations in the form of the entered order and asserts the judge "violated the code of judicial conduct," citing Canons 3A (4) and (5).

After careful review of plaintiff's arguments and consideration of the submissions of the parties in light of the record and applicable law, we discern no abuse of discretion by the motion judge in his determinations. Notte v. Merchs. Mut. Ins. Co., 185 N.J. 490, 501 (2006); Kernan v. One Washington Park Urban Renewal Assocs., 154 N.J. 437, 457 (1998).

Further, we conclude the arguments advanced by plaintiff are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). We accept Judge Doyne's findings and agree with his conclusions based upon the reasons set forth in his oral opinion properly denying the motion for reconsideration of the order dismissing plaintiff's second amended complaint. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(A).

We are compelled to comment on the suggestion that the judge breached the Canons governing judicial conduct. Plaintiff's contentions center on perceived insulting comments by counsel. The record is devoid of any injudicious comment by Judge Doyne. At all times, throughout each of the three hearings, the judge displayed courtesy, patience, consideration, and respect to all parties. The court's inquiry directed to plaintiff's legal education neither displayed bias nor prejudice. In fact, the court complimented plaintiff on the quality of the submissions. Apparently, plaintiff had legal training and degrees, which he had declined to acknowledge when asked. We discern no impropriety in ...

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