X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
A state appeals court averted possible legal disaster for New Jersey hospitals last week, ruling that the Patients’ Bill of Rights Act does not authorize a private cause of action for violations of its provisions. The court, in a case brought by patients who claimed the hospital violated the act by letting a New York Times crew film them for reality television, said the legislative history of the statute made clear that state administrators, not suit-wielding patients, had the power to enforce the act’s rights. The ruling, in Castro v. NYT Television, A-1849-03T2, is important because it reverses a trial judge who last year held that private actions were necessary to keep hospitals accountable. Otherwise, the law would be toothless, Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Louis Locascio found. Had Locascio’s ruling been affirmed, hospitals would have been subject to suits by patients asserting that they had been damaged by failure to abide by the act’s 17 provisions, many of them glittering generalities, such as the one requiring “considerate and respectful” care. Ross Lewin, who argued as an amicus for the New Jersey Hospital Association, said that if the appeals court had agreed with Locascio, “the guarantee is that there would have been tons of new litigation.” Because so many separate rights are protected by the act and so many of the provisions are general, courts would have been asked to create an entire set of definitions of what duties the act required in individual cases, Lewin said. “It would give every plaintiff’s attorney the right to argue there was new law on every subject and all the precedents would be reviewed de novo,” said Lewin, of Princeton, N.J.’s Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf. The provisions, familiar to any patient not too anxiety-ridden to absorb the long forms thrust into his or her hands, include provision of good care, protection of privacy and provision of interpreters in communities with substantial numbers of non-English-speaking residents. The losing plaintiffs’ lawyer, Gerald Clark of Shrewsbury’s Lynch Martin, said “the ruling is that we have a bill of rights that has no teeth. It’s meaningless.” The plaintiffs in the suit are emergency room patients filmed at Jersey Shore Medical Center in 2001 by a Times crew gathering material for a Learning Channel show, Trauma, Life in the ER. The defendants are the hospital and media companies producing the show. The central cause of action in the suit is a common law privacy violation, but the suit also included claims under the Patients’ Bill of Rights Act, the Consumer Fraud Act and the Wiretap Act.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.

 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.