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Howard v. University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

800 A.2d 73 (2002)

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Howard v. University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

New Jersey Supreme Court

800 A.2d 73 (2002)

Facts

Joseph Howard (plaintiff) suffered serious back and neck injuries in two car accidents but was reluctant to try a surgical treatment. Neurosurgeon Dr. Robert Heary (defendant) recommended that Howard have a corpectomy, a type of spinal surgery, for his neck injuries. At a second consultation, Howard and his wife both heard Heary say that he was board certified and had performed 60 corpectomies per year for the last 11 years. These statements made the couple feel better about trying the surgery, and Howard consented. However, after the surgery, Howard became a quadriplegic. Howard learned that although Heary had been eligible for board certification at the time of the surgery, he had not yet been officially certified. Heary also denied claiming that he performed 60 corpectomies per year. Howard sued Heary for medical malpractice. Howard also tried to include a fraud claim for Heary’s misrepresentations about his skill and experience, but the trial court did not allow it. Howard appealed. The appellate court allowed the fraud claim, and Heary appealed that ruling.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (LaVecchia, J.)

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