On November 13, 2020, the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division (“New Jersey Appellate Court”) revived a New Jersey dental malpractice case alleging that an endodontist, Ira J. Zohn, DMD (“(Zohn”) and a dental office, Advanced Endodontic Associates (“AEA”), provided nitrous oxide to the plaintiff in regular intervals beyond what was medically necessary for any dental treatment, or for no medical purpose whatsoever, leading to the plaintiff’ suffering injury.
The defendants filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court granted, finding that no doctor-patient relationship existed and “just because there was a relationship or an alleged [doctor-patient] relationship between 2007 and 2009, that does not mean that there was a relationship in 2013 to 2017.” Even if a doctor-patient relationship existed, the judge concluded that “the complaint and prior arguments by counsel show that receiving nitrous oxide in this case was not for treatment” and “it appeared that plaintiff was attempting to “hold [Zohn] to a higher standard of care than a reasonably prudent person because of [his] education and/or background.” The plaintiff appealed.
New Jersey Appellate Court Opinion
The New Jersey Appellate Court held: “Here, plaintiff alleged he received treatment from defendants, and that defendants “were charged with the professional responsibility of rendering proper medical care and treatment to [p]laintiff[.]” Plaintiff pleaded that defendants breached that care by administering nitrous oxide “far in excess of any amounts necessary for the dental treatment they provided.” Plaintiff’s pleading that the defendants “administer[ed] nitrous oxide for purposes other than for assistance in dental procedures” does not preclude the possibility that defendants administered nitrous oxide both when it was for the purpose of assistance in dental procedures and when it was not. Given these factual inferences, Zuidema [where the court held that a doctor’s sexual assault of his patient did not fall within a medical negligence claim because it was neither related to nor necessary for any actual medical services the defendant may have rendered; a doctor’s duty to refrain from intentional acts does not generally give rise to a medical malpractice action] is inapplicable because the actions here allegedly involved medical treatment and were not “independent of any professional services [the defendant] rendered and unnecessary to [them].” Id. at 146. Finally, plaintiff pled that he suffered damages as a result of the maladministration of nitrous oxide during treatments. These pleadings, when making all factual inferences in favor of the plaintiff, establish a claim upon which relief may be granted … plaintiff sufficiently pleaded a medical negligence claim.”
Source Ampolsky v. Zohn, Docket No. A-0914-19T1.
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