A New Jersey mother whose infant child died shortly after birth will not be able to recover more than $250,000 from the hospital where her child was born, pursuant to a ruling by a New Jersey federal court.
Mary Mendez, the plaintiff, had filed a lawsuit against CAMcare Health Corporation, a non-profit entity that operated a number of federally qualified health centers in the Camden, New Jersey area. Mendez alleged negligence during the pregnancy and delivery process, contending that:
- Maternity nurses wrongfully failed to monitor her blood pressure before and during delivery
- The nurses did not report any blood pressure problems to doctors
- Doctors at the hospital failed to order a C-section in a timely manner
CAMcare had asked the federal court to dismiss the claim, saying that the hospital was a charity and was exempt from liability under the New Jersey Charitable Immunities Act. The court, while finding that the NJCIA was applicable to the lawsuit and limited the potential liability of the hospital to $250,000. The court opted not to dismiss the entire lawsuit, though, finding that CAMcare is not exclusively a charity. The court had previously thrown out a punitive damages claim by Mendez against a CAMcare nurse, holding that Mendez could not produce any evidence of “actual malice,” a requirement under New Jersey law for punitive damages.
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