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."
argued that this decision would discourage doctors from helping patients
in hospitals, but the Court felt that wouldn't happen.