ALFRED W. RICCO, JR., ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF SOPHIA RICCO, Plaintiff-Appellant,
OUR LADY OF LOURDES (HOSPITAL) MEDICAL CENTER; KRESSON VIEW CENTER, GENESIS HEALTHCARE; and INNOVA HEALTH & REHAB, Defendants-Respondents.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 21, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Docket No. L-2976-11.
Alfred W. Ricco, Jr., appellant pro se.
Stahl & DeLaurentis, P.C., attorneys for respondent Our Lady of Lourdes (Hospital) Medical Center (Sharon K. Galpern, on the brief).
Orlovsky, Moody, Schaaff & Conlon, LLC, attorneys for respondents 2601 Evesham Road Operations, LLC d/b/a Kresson View Center i/p/a Kresson View Center and Genesis HealthCare, LLC i/p/a Genesis HealthCare (Alison G. Deaner, on the brief).
The Law Offices of Charles P. Hopkins, II, attorneys for respondent Innova Health & Rehab (Shawna K. Bishop and William Paulus, on the brief).
Before Judges Harris and Guadagno.
Plaintiff Alfred W. Ricco, Jr. —— as administrator of the estate of his mother Sophia Ricco —— appeals from a series of orders that culminated in the August 2, 2012 dismissal of his pro se medical malpractice complaint "in its entirety as to all defendants with prejudice pursuant to R. 1:21-1." We affirm.
Eighty-seven year old Sophia J. Ricco died intestate on June 10, 2009. She was survived by plaintiff and his sister Eileen Libenson Vogel, who executed a renunciation of her right of administration in favor of plaintiff. Consequently, plaintiff applied for, and was granted, letters of administration by the Camden County Surrogate on August 4, 2009.
For some time prior to her death, plaintiff's mother had been treated by several medical facilities, including those owned and operated by defendants. On the second anniversary of his mother's death, June 10, 2011, plaintiff commenced the present action by filing a pro se complaint —— in his name as the administrator of his mother's estate —— against only one defendant: "the Genesis HealthCare skilled nursing facility known as Kresson View Center." Plaintiff alleged that his mother's death was caused by that defendant's "inferior care, care not of the kind or cali[b]er normally associated with a skilled nursing care facility, care below the standard of care normally associated with a skilled nursing care facility, and inferior care."
An amended pro se complaint was filed six months later, on December 21, 2011, which added defendants Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and Innova Health and Rehab. Plaintiff now asserted that his mother's death was the result of "[t]he negligence and carelessness and/or recklessness of . . . [d]efendants[, which] constituted medical care below what is required in the State of New Jersey."
In swift succession, defendants Genesis and Innova moved to dismiss the complaint without prejudice, pursuant to Rule 1:21-1, because the real party in interest was Sophia Ricco's estate, and plaintiff was not licensed to practice law on behalf of the estate. On March 2, 2012, the Law Division entered an order denying the motion to dismiss without prejudice.
Based upon the limited record presented to the motion court, it ruled that plaintiff was a real party in interest as the administrator of his mother's estate, and he was permitted to litigate the allegations in the amended complaint notwithstanding his pro se status.
Among the representations that plaintiff made to the motion court is one contained ...