On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Morris County, Docket No. L-1703-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Yannotti and Harris.
Plaintiffs appeal from an order entered by the Law Division on April 2, 2012, denying their motion to reinstate their complaint. We affirm.
On June 18, 2007, plaintiffs filed a complaint in the trial court, naming Morristown Memorial Hospital (MMH), Leonard J. Moss, D.O. (Moss), Richard S. Rosenberg, M.D. (Rosenberg), Stewart W. Fox, M.D. (Fox), Ira P. Monka, M.D. (Monka), Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (NBI), David Baran, M.D. (Baran), and certain fictitious parties as defendants. Plaintiffs' complaint arose out of the treatment that defendants allegedly provided to decedent Bevelyn D. Cole (Cole).
According to the complaint, Cole was admitted to MMH on June 17, 2005. Plaintiffs alleged that on June 17, 2005, Cole fell on MMH's premises. Cole was admitted to NBI on June 20, 2005, and died on June 24, 2005. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants deviated from accepted standards of medical care in their treatment of Cole.
NBI and Baran filed an answer on July 26, 2007. Rosenberg filed an
answer on July 24, 2007, and Fox filed an answer on August 16, 2007.
In addition, MMH filed its answer on August 31, 2007.*fn1
Moss and Monka filed an answer on October 3, 2007.
On October 19, 2007, after Baran submitted an affidavit of non-involvement in Cole's care pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-40, plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their claims against him. In addition, with leave of court, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint which added Luis Arroyo, M.D. (Arroyo) as a defendant.
On November 8, 2007, plaintiffs' attorney, Herbert M. Korn (Korn), filed a motion seeking an extension of time for the service of affidavits of merit on defendants pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-27. At this time, Korn also filed a motion seeking to be relieved as counsel, for what he claimed were personal reasons.
Thereafter, the trial court entered orders dated November 23, 2007, extending the time in which plaintiffs were required to furnish their affidavits of merit. The orders stated that the affidavits of merit were due 120 days after defendants filed their respective answers.
The court also entered an order dated November 23, 2007, which granted Korn's motion to be relieved as counsel for plaintiffs. The order stated that plaintiffs had thirty days from the date of a November 21, 2007 conference call to obtain new counsel. They were also required to provide the affidavits of merit within the time required by N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-27.
It is undisputed that plaintiffs did not retain new counsel within the time required by the court's November 23, 2007 order. It is also undisputed that plaintiffs did not serve their affidavits on the remaining defendants within one hundred twenty days after these defendants filed their respective answers.
Thereafter, Rosenberg, Fox, NBI and Arroyo filed motions seeking dismissal of the claims against them with prejudice for failure to provide the affidavits of merit, as required by N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-27. The motions were not opposed. The court entered orders dated February ...