Velazquez v. Jiminez
172 N.J. 240, 798 A.2d 51 (2002)

  • Dr. Jiminez was delivering Valazquez's baby. There were complications in the childbirth. Dr. Jiminez called in Dr. Randzini to help. The baby was born with brain damage.
  • Velazquez sued Dr. Jiminez and Dr. Randzini for medical malpractice.
  • The Trial Court found for Velazquez, and assigned 3% of the liability to Randzini.
    • Randzini argued she was immunized from liability because she was a Good Samaritan.
      • Under a Good Samaritan Act, such as the one in New Jersey, people who render aid during an emergency are immunized from liability for problems that occurs as the scene of the emergency.
      • Some States explicitly exclude emergency care inside a hospital. Other States explicitly include it. New Jersey's Statue is silent on the issue.
    • Randzini argued that she wasn't Velazquez doctor, she just happened to be working at the hospital that day. Therefore, she was a Good Samaritan, as opposed to a doctor who owed a patient a certain standard of care.
      • Velazquez argued that Randinzini wasn't a good samaritan at all, she was a doctor who owed her patient reasonable care.
  • The Appellate Court affirmed.
    • The Appellate Court found that the Statute must be construed narrowly, and the fact that it specifically included the "scene of the emergency" and "transport to a hospital" but not "hospital" implied that hospitals were not covered.
    • The Court felt that the purpose of the Good Samaritan Act was to encourage people to help accident victims they come upon by chance. Randzini wasn't someone who came upon the emergency "by chance."
      • Randzini unsuccessfully argued that this decision would discourage doctors from helping patients in hospitals, but the Court felt that wouldn't happen.