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Mendoza v. Inspira Medical Center Vineland

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

November 13, 2017

GLADYS MENDOZA, personal representative of ELIAS MENDOZA, Plaintiff,
v.
INSPIRA MEDICAL CENTER VINELAND, et al., Defendants.[1]

          JAMES R. RADMORE, LAW OFFICES OF JAMES R. RADMORE, P.C. On behalf of Plaintiff

          ELIZABETH A. WILSON GROSSMAN, HEAVEY & HALPIN, P.C. BRICK PROFESSIONAL COMPLEX On behalf of Defendant Inspira Medical Centers, Inc.

          STEVEN F. DRAKE DRAKE LAW FIRM, P.C. On behalf of Defendants Naeem Amin, M.D. and Kidney and Hypertension Specialists, P.A.

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         This is a medical malpractice action in which Plaintiff asserts Decedent Elias Mendoza was negligently treated by various physicians and medical providers. On March 30, 2017, this Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants Naeem Amin, M.D., Kidney and Hypertension Specialists, P.A., and Inspira. Plaintiff argues for reconsideration of both motions. For the reasons that follow, this Court will deny Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration.

         I.

         The Court takes its facts from its March 30, 2017 Opinion granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants Dr. Amin, Kidney and Hypertension Specialists, and Inspira. On March 10, 2014, Decedent arrived in the Emergency Room of Inspira Medical Center, complaining of shortness of breath. Decedent was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit. While at Inspira, Decedent underwent a cardiology consultation performed by Defendant Andrew Zinn, M.D.[2] and a nephrology consultation performed by Defendant Dr. Amin. Dr. Amin is board certified in Internal Medicine with a subspecialty in nephrology. Plaintiff's case largely rests on the following note entered in Decedent's Discharge Summary:

HOSPITAL COURSE: Over the course of the patient's hospital stay, he tolerated BiPAP and required dialysis. Unfortunately he was unable to tolerate full treatments and continued to build up fluid. The patient unfortunately had some difficulty receiving dialysis in our intensive care unit due to staffing limitations, which continued to exacerbate his continued difficulties with his fluid overload state.

         Plaintiff claims Decedent was negligently treated, which resulted in brain and heart damage, eventually leading to Decedent's death on February 23, 2015. As to Dr. Amin and Defendant Kidney and Hypertension Specialists, the theory of Plaintiff's case appears to be that Dr. Amin's “failure to properly monitor” Decedent and “provide the necessary dialysis on a timely basis” resulted in Decedent's death. As to Inspira, Plaintiff's theory appears to be that inadequate staffing resulted in Decedent not timely receiving dialysis, which constituted a deviation from the standard of care.

         Plaintiff provided an Affidavit of Merit from Bruce D. Charash, M.D. The Affidavit of Merit stated Dr. Charash is “a licensed, board certified Cardiologist and Internist” and that his practice “has been substantially devoted to this specialty for greater than five years.” In the Affidavit of Merit, Dr. Charash opined all Defendants' treatment “fell outside acceptable professional standards and treatment practices.” The Court determined summary judgment was appropriate as to Dr. Amin, Kidney and Hypertension Specialists, and Inspira. The Court summarizes its March 30, 2017 decision as follows. The Court found Dr. Charash had a subspecialty in cardiology, whereas Dr. Amin had a subspecialty in nephrology. The Court held that the “kind-for-kind” requirement of N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-41 is equally applicable to subspecialties. Accordingly, the Court determined that, since Dr. Amin and Dr. Charash were not equally credentialed, Plaintiff could not rely on Dr. Charash to establish Dr. Amin and Kidney and Hypertension Specialists' alleged deviation from the standard of care.

         As to Plaintiff's claim against Inspira, the Court determined the “common knowledge” exception to the Affidavit of Merit requirement did not apply. The Court found “[i]t is not within a lay person's knowledge as to what an adequately staffed intensive care unit looks like” and that “decisions concerning staffing involve specialized knowledge.”

         Plaintiff filed a Motion for Reconsideration on April 13, 2017.

         II.

         A motion for reconsideration may be treated as a motion to alter or amend judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), or as a motion for relief from judgment or order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), or it may be filed pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1(i). The purpose of a motion for reconsideration “is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999). A judgment may be altered or amended only if the party seeking reconsideration shows: (1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the ...


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