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Casey v. Johnson

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

December 23, 2013

MARY CASEY and JOHN MILLER on behalf of the ESTATE OF COLLEEN MILLER (Decedent Infant) and MARY CASEY and JOHN MILLER, individually, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL; JACQUELINE WILLIAMS-PHILLIPS, M.D.; and JOSEPH GAFFNEY, M.D., Defendants-Respondents, and ROBERT BEINER, M.D., A. OTTO, M.D.; SUZANNE DAMIANI, M.D.; SHEBA GUL, M.D.; HIGHLAND PARK PEDIATRICS; MONI ZHEREBTSOV, M.D.; and JEREMY GRAYSON, M.D., Defendants.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued October 8, 2013.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Somerset County, Docket No. L-536-09.

James D. Martin argued the cause for appellants (Martin Kane & Kuper, attorneys; Mr. Martin and Dana E. McDade, on the briefs).

Joseph A. DiCroce argued the cause for respondent Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (Law Offices of Joseph A. DiCroce, LLC, attorneys; Sarah Hamilton Morley, on the brief).

Paul F. Schaaff, Jr., argued the cause for respondent Jacqueline Williams-Philips, M.D. (Orlovsky, Moody, Schaaff, Conlon & Gabrysiak, attorneys; Mr. Schaaff and Nicole H. Klug, on the brief).

Rudolph A. Socey, Jr., argued the cause for respondent Joseph Gaffney, M.D. (Lenox, Socey, Formidoni, Giordano, Cooley, Lang & Casey, LLC, attorneys; Michael A. Pattinite, Jr., on the brief).

Before Judges Alvarez, Ostrer and Carroll.

PER CURIAM

Plaintiffs Mary Casey and John Miller appeal the grant of partial summary judgment on November 14, 2012, dismissing their claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress against defendants Jacqueline Williams-Phillips, M.D., Joseph Gaffney, M.D., and Jeremy Grayson, M.D.[1] For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

On May 1, 2006, plaintiffs' nineteen-month-old child Colleen Rose was admitted to defendant Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJ) through the emergency room at approximately 5:00 p.m. because the child was experiencing difficulty breathing and displayed cold or flu-like symptoms. At approximately 7:00 p.m., an x-ray revealed an enlarged heart. She was transferred to the hospital's pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) due to increasing tachycardia and breathing difficulties. Williams-Phillips, a pediatric intensivist, became involved in Colleen Rose's care at approximately 11:00 p.m. She contacted Gaffney, the on-call pediatric cardiologist, and discussed the child's heart rhythm strips over the phone. Because Gaffney's fax machine was not working properly, she was not able to forward the reports to his home.

Gaffney recommended a course of treatment, which Williams-Phillips followed. Williams-Phillips called Gaffney a second time between 12:15 and 12:50 a.m. and administered another drug at his direction. In deposition, Williams-Phillips testified that she requested that Gaffney come to the hospital during this second call, and told plaintiffs he was on his way. Gaffney denies having been even asked to go to the hospital. Casey's sister, for whom the child was named, was then a pediatric nurse at RWJ. She waited with plaintiffs during the night.

While making his normal rounds the following morning, Gaffney arrived at PICU between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. After examining Colleen Rose, he immediately ordered a course of urgent measures, including intubation and cardioversion, [2] to no avail. Once Gaffney arrived and took control of the child's treatment, the family was asked to step out of the room. Approximately an hour passed, during which time they were allegedly told by Williams-Phillips that the child had died, ...


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