The Plastic Surgery Center, PA v. Malouf Chevrolet-Cadillac, Inc., Docket Nos. A-5597-16T1, A-5603-16T1, A-5604-16T1, A-0151-17T1, A-0152-17T1, 2019 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 8 (App. Div., Decided Jan. 17, 2019)

Statute of limitations for medial provider applications filed with NJ Division of WC.

The Plastic Surgery Center, PA, The Woods O.R., Inc., Steven Paragioudakis, M.D. and Marc Menkowitz, M.D. filed petitions in the Division of Workers’ Compensation for payment of services rendered to employees of Malouf Chevrolet-Cadillac, Inc., Leone Industries and Café Bayou. The claims were each filed more than two years from the date of each employee’s accident, but less than six years from the date on which the medical services were rendered. In interpreting N.J.S.A. 34:15-15 so as to require application of the two-year statute of limitations to these medical provider applications, the judge of compensation dismissed all of the claims. The medical providers appealed, and the appeals were heard on a consolidated basis.

In reversing the judge of compensation’s dismissal of the medical providers’ applications, the Appellate Division attempted to ascertain the intent of a 2012 legislative amendment to the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act. In 2012, the legislature amended N.J.S.A. 34:15-15, granting the Division of Workers’ Compensation exclusive jurisdiction over claims brought by medical providers for payment of services rendered to injured employees. Before the 2012 amendment, a medical provider was entitled to file a collection action for payment in the Superior Court and had no obligation to participate in a patient’s pending workers’ compensation claim. See, University of Mass. v. Christodoulou, 180 N.J. 334 (2004). However, as the court in Christodoulou held, when an employee pursues a claim in the Division of Workers’ Compensation, a provider’s Superior Court collection action must be transferred to the Division for efficiency purposes. It was well-established long before the 2012 amendment that the timeliness of medical provider claims is governed by the general six-year statute of limitations (N.J.S.A. 2A:14-1) requiring that every action at law for recovery upon a contractual claim shall be commenced within six years after the cause of action shall have accrued.

Although the Appellate Division found a multitude of reasons to conclude that the legislature did not intend to alter the long-standing six-year statute of limitations for medical provider claims, it found most compelling the fact that any other interpretation would be logically inconsistent.


Case Law Alerts, 3rd Quarter, July 2019

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