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Safer v. Pack

677 A.2d 1188 (N.J. Super. A.D. 1996)

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Safer v. Pack

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

677 A.2d 1188 (N.J. Super. A.D. 1996)

Facts

Donna Safer’s (plaintiff) father, Robert Batkin, was treated by Dr. George Pack (defendant) in the 1950s and 1960s, for a recurring bout of colon cancer, which ultimately caused his death. Although Pack knew that Batkin’s form of colon cancer was hereditary, he never informed Batkin’s wife or Safer that Safer was at a heightened risk of developing colon cancer. At the age of 36, Safer was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent a surgical procedure to remove most of her bowel and her left ovary. Thereafter, Safer obtained Batkin’s medical records which indicated that he had suffered from the particular form of colon cancer that she was treated for. Safer filed suit against Pack (who had died in 1969) alleging professional negligence for his failure to warn Safer of her heightened risk. The trial court granted Pack’s motion to dismiss holding that a physician had no legal duty to warn the child of a patient of a genetic risk. The trial judge reasoned that in order for a physician to have a duty to warn there must be a patient-physician relationship present which Pack and Safer did not have. Safer appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kestin, J.)

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