United States District Court, D. New Jersey
FINESMITH, ESQ. Counsel for Plaintiffs.
WILLIAM FITZPATRICK, ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY By: Jordan M.
Anger, A.U.S.A. Counsel for Defendant United States of
MCCAY PA By: Jarad L. Silverstein, Esq. Carolyn R. Sleeper,
Esq. Counsel for all other Defendants.
L. Hillman, U.S.D.J.
a medical malpractice suit. Plaintiff Mary Mendez asserts
that the negligence of the various medical professionals who
treated her during her pregnancy caused the death of her baby
during, or shortly after, the baby's birth.
those medical professionals is Dr. Eric Chang, who is
employed by CAMcare Health Corporation
(“CAMcare”). CAMcare is a federally qualified
health center (“FHQC”), and the United States has
been substituted for Dr. Chang pursuant to the provisions of
the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1346, 2671-2680.
United States presently moves to dismiss pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, or alternatively, for partial summary judgment
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. At issue is whether the New
Jersey Charitable Immunities Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-7 et seq.,
applies to the claims against Dr. Chang; and if so, whether
the NJCIA's absolute immunity provision, or the damages
cap provision, applies.
absolute immunity provision applies, this Court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction by operation of the United States'
limited waiver of sovereign immunity in the FTCA.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2674. If the damages cap
applies, the United States is entitled to summary judgment
limiting its liability to $250, 000. If the NJCIA does not
apply at all, as Plaintiff contends, then the United
States' Motion should be denied in its entirety.
reasons stated herein, the Court holds that the NJCIA's
damages cap provision applies. Accordingly, the United
States' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction will be denied, and the motion for partial
summary judgment will be granted.
other opinions have been written in this case. See Mendez
v. United States, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16153 (D.N.J.
Feb. 3, 2017); Mendez v. United States, 2016 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 168854 (D.N.J. Dec. 7, 2016); Mendez v.
United States, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102381 (D.N.J. Aug.
5, 2015); Mendez v. Chang, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
152131 (D.N.J. Oct. 23, 2013). The Court recites only the
facts directly relevant to the instant motion.
is classified as a public charity under the Internal Revenue
Code. (Plaintiff's Response to United States'
Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute
(“PSUF”) ¶ 1) It provides “primary
health care” services to “underserved
families” through its operation of eight “health
centers” located in Camden and Gloucester Counties.
(PSUF ¶¶ 1-2)
has no inpatient facilities and provides “no trauma
care, not even suturing.” (PSUF ¶ 1) However, the
services CAMcare does provide-- “including primary care
(internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrical, gynecological,
prenatal and perinatal services, and podiatry), preventive
care (family planning, well-child services, dental services,
and nutrition), [and] related support and enabling health
services”-- are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week. (PSUF ¶ 17-18).
Certificate of Incorporation states that CAMcare's
corporate purposes are:
a. To provide primary health services, including the services
of physicians and other health providers, and, where
feasible, services of physicians' assistants and nurse
clinicians, mental health services, dental services,
diagnostic laboratory and radiologic services, preventive
health services (including children's eye and ear
examinations to determine the need for vision and hearing
corrections, prenatal services, well child services,
preventive dental services, and family planning services),
emergency medical services, and transportation services as
required for adequate patient care;
b. To provide as appropriate supplemental health services
necessary for the adequate support of primary health
services, including hospital services, home health services,
extended care facility services, extended care facility
services, rehabilitative services (including physical
therapy) and long term physical medicine, mental health
services, dental services, vision services, allied health
services, pharmaceutical services, therapeutic radiologic
services, public health services (including nutrition
education and social services), health education services,
and services which promote optimal use of primary and
supplemental health services, including as necessary and
appropriate the services of bilingual outreach workers;
c. To provide referrals to providers of supplemental health
services and patients, as appropriate and feasible, for the
provision of such services; d. To provide, as may be
appropriate, environmental health services;
e. To provide information on the availability and proper use
of health services;
f. To raise funds from private donations and to apply for and
receive governmental and ...