In a published decision issued on December 9, 2019, New Jersey’s Appellate Division upheld a trial court’s dismissal of a medical malpractice complaint on the basis that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendant. In Pullen v. Galloway, et al., A-1373-18T2 (App. Div. Dec. 9, 2019), the court considered whether it had jurisdiction over Dr. Aubrey Galloway, in connection with a claim of alleged medical malpractice, resulting in the death of the plaintiff’s wife.
The decedent underwent a surgery to replace her aortic valve on March 29, 2016, which was performed by Dr. Aubrey Galloway at New York University Langone Medical Center, located in New York City. Dr. Galloway was, at the time of this treatment, licensed to practice medicine only in the State of New York, and also lived in New York. Plaintiff’s decedent had been referred to Dr. Galloway by her New Jersey licensed medical doctor for treatment. However, all treatment provided by Dr. Galloway occurred in New York.
Dr. Galloway moved for a dismissal of the lawsuit based on a lack of personal jurisdiction. In support of this motion, he certified that he lived in New York, and was licensed to practice medicine in New York, and never lived or practiced medicine in New Jersey. In addition, the decedent was never treated in New Jersey, and Dr. Galloway was not affiliated with any hospitals in New Jersey in 2016, and did not solicit decedent or any other New Jersey resident for the purpose of rendering medical treatment. Galloway had been licensed to practice medicine in New Jersey from June of 2004 to June of 2009, because NYU Medical School had an arrangement with a hospital in Atlantic City. However, Dr. Galloway never examined patients in New Jersey in that time frame, and never traveled to New Jersey to care for any patients.
Plaintiff contended primarily that the physician who had referred the decedent to Dr. Galloway had a “personal relationship/friendship” with Dr. Galloway, and that this referral established personal jurisdiction even if not sought or requested by Dr. Galloway. Plaintiff also contended that Dr. Galloway had advertised his services to solicit business, through local television commercials and via the internet. Plaintiff did not identify what commercials were broadcast on local television, or in which jurisdictions they were broadcast. The internet advertisement at issue consisted of a YouTube video uploaded by NYU Medical Center on August 31, 2017. The court noted that the mere accessibility of the website in New Jersey was insufficient to confer jurisdiction on the New Jersey court. Given the complete lack of any connection to New Jersey, generally as a medical doctor or specifically as to the decedent, the court affirmed the dismissal of the claim, but modified it to be a dismissal without prejudice.
For more information on the personal jurisdiction defense in New Jersey, please contact MK&C’s Tom Emala at (973) 822-1110 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.