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Hottenstein v. City of Sea Isle City

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

October 3, 2013

CHARLES S. HOTTENSTEIN, Administrator for the Estate of Tracy Hottenstein; CHARLES S. HOTTENSTEIN; and ELIZABETH K. HOTTENSTEIN, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF SEA ISLE CITY; et al., Defendants

THE WESTCOTT LAW FIRM, P.C., By: Lynanne B. Wescott, Esq., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Counsel for Plaintiffs.

POWELL, BIRCHMEIER & POWELL, P.C., By: James R. Birchmeier, Esq., Tuckahoe, New Jersey, Counsel for Defendants City of Sea Isle City, Harold, Boyer, Thomas McQuillen, and Vincent Haugh.

LAW OFFICES OF JAY J. BLUMBERG, ESQ., By: Christopher M. Wolk, Esq., Woodbury, New Jersey, Counsel for Defendants Zaki Khebzou and Atlantic, Emergency Associates.

MAYFIELD TURNER O'MARA & DONNELLY, P.C., By: Michael J. O'Mara, Esq., Robert J. Gillespie, Jr., Esq., Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Counsel for Defendants Sea Isle Ambulance Corps and Phyllis Linn.

FOX ROTHSCHILD, L.L.P., By: Peter Sarkos, Esq., Epiphany McGuigan, Esq., Atlantic City, New Jersey, Counsel for Defendants Atlanticare Regional Medical, Center, Atlantic City Medical Center, Atlanticare MICU, Medics at Base 3.

OPINION

Page 293

HONORABLE JOSEPH E. IRENAS, Senior United States District Judge.

This wrongful death / survivorship suit arises out of the untimely and tragic death of Tracy Hottenstein.[1] Presently before the Court is Defendants Atlanticare Regional Medical Center, Atlanticare MICU Medics at Base 3, and Atlantic City Medical Center's Motion to Limit Damages under the New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act.

I.

Sometime after 2:15 a.m. on February 15, 2009, in Sea Isle City, Tracy Hottenstein, who was intoxicated at the time, fell off a public dock into the ocean below.[2] As a result of some of the events that occurred after her disappearance, Tracy died. The Court reviews only the facts relevant to deciding the Defendant's Motion to Limit Damages.

Tracy was discovered at approximately 7:52 a.m., when Francis Haney placed a 911 call to report a body found on the Sea Isle City Marina boat launching ramp. (Pls.' Ex. 15; Pls.' Ex. 16) Over the course of the next thirty minutes, various police and rescue personnel responded to the scene. At 8:02 a.m., Frank Rocco and Michael Senisch of the Atlanticare MICU were dispatched to make a " pronouncement." (Pls.' Ex. 24 at 1) They arrived at the scene at 8:13 a.m., where they were not granted physical access to Tracy's body because the area was considered a crime scene. (Pls.' Ex. 24 at 1.) Upon arrival, Senisch spoke with police officers who reported that Tracy was pulseless and apneic, and that the paramedics were called to the scene to declare Tracy deceased. (Pls.' Ex. 17 at 43:10-45:15.)

At 8:21 a.m., Senisch called Dr. Zaki Khebzou, a physician back at the Atlanticare base, to obtain a pronouncement of death. (Pls.' Ex. 5.) In a brief call, Sensich identified himself as a paramedic from Medic Three and explained that he was calling for a pronouncement. ( Id. ) Senisch described Tracy as demonstrating " obvious irreversible signs of death." ( Id. ) After hearing further description, Khebzou pronounced Tracy deceased at 8:22 a.m. and ended the phone call. ( Id. ) After hanging up the call, Medic Three was placed back

Page 294

on to " available" status at 8:24 a.m. (Pls.' Ex. 24 ...


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