Moody by & through Gatewood-Gabriel v. Voorhees Care & Rehab. Ctr., No. A-5561-18, 2021 WL 608903 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Feb. 17, 2021)

New Jersey Appellate Division provides a blueprint for proving a claim and obtaining attorney fees under the N.J. Nursing Home Responsibilities and Residents’ Rights Act.

The plaintiff resident alleged the defendant nursing home was negligent and violated her rights for negligently monitoring her blood sugar, resulting in hospitalization. Claims were brought under the state’s Nursing Home Act, as well as federal regulations dealing with nursing homes under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA), 42 C.F.R. §§483.1-483.480.

On appeal, the defendant argued the plaintiff’s expert should not have been permitted to testify about violations of the NHA, specifically, the violations of nursing home residents’ rights in N.J.S.A. 30:13-5(j). In ratifying the decision to permit the plaintiff’s expert to testify about the NHA and upholding the jury award of nearly $350,000, the Moody Court distinguished Ptaszynski v. Atl. Health Sys., Inc., 440 N.J. Super. 24 (App. Div. 2015). First, the expert in Moody was allowed to opine on violations of rights, N.J.S.A 30:13-5(j), because he was not asked to define the words in the statute, e.g. “dignity,” like the expert in Ptaszynski. Second, the same evidence of damages can be utilized to prove both statutory violations of rights and negligence, provided the jury is instructed not to duplicate damages. And third, federal and state regulations as well as state statutes are all relevant to the standards of care for nursing homes, so the plaintiff’s expert was permitted to testify and the jury was instructed with charges that incorporate this language.

The implication of Moody is that it may make it easier for a plaintiff to prove a claim and obtain an award of attorney fees under the NHA because this decision serves as a step-by-step guide on how to do so.


Case Law Alerts, 3rd Quarter, July 2021 is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2021 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.