Lomando v. United States, No. 11-1957 (3d Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Decedent was treated at a non-profit clinic, by volunteer physicians. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services deemed those physicians to be Public Health Service employees (Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. 233(o)), immune from suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 1346, 2671-2680. A suit against the U.S. was the exclusive remedy for alleged malpractice at the clinic. Decedent also treated at a facility where physicians did not enjoy those protections. Her estate sued the U.S., the clinic, the other facility, the doctors at that facility, and their physicians' group. The district court granted summary judgment for the clinic, predicated on immunity under the New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act (NJCIA), and ultimately dismissed. The Third Circuit affirmed, except for remanding with respect to the physicians' group. The trial court properly held that the U.S. was immune from suit under the NJCIA, which provides that a similarly-placed private employer would be entitled to the defense. The court properly held that the treatment provided constituted emergency medicine, so that N.J. Stat. 2A:53A-41 applied and one of plaintiff's experts was not qualified to testify. The court erred in not considering treatment by a physicians' assistant in considering claims against her employer, the physicians' group.