Victoria Ronemus, Special Litigation Counsel at Fullerton Beck, prevailed in a case with claims of fraud and medical/professional malpractice for which the court granted the firm’s 3211(a)(7) pre-discovery motion.
This case arose out of a custody battle in a divorce proceeding. The family court judge ordered the plaintiff to submit to a substance abuse evaluation, for which the court appointed a substance abuse counselor, our client, to perform. After the evaluation and submitting the report to the court, the plaintiff brought suit against our client alleging fraud and medical/professional malpractice.
The court decided in favor of the defendant on both counts. First, the court agreed with Fullerton Beck’s argument that the plaintiff failed to sufficiently plead fraud. The court held that the plaintiff failed to establish the reliance element of fraud and noted that the plaintiff did not attend the evaluation in reliance on a knowing misrepresentation or material omissions of fact by our client. Rather, the plaintiff attended the evaluation because he was directed to by the court.
Regarding the medical/professional malpractice claim, the court held that as a court-appointed expert, our client was shielded by quasi-judicial immunity, so any allegations of negligence and malpractice were not sustainable against our client. Furthermore, the court stated, even if quasi-judicial immunity did not apply, the plaintiff did not state a cause of action for medical malpractice. The court noted that contrary to plaintiff’s contention, he and the defendant did not have a traditional doctor-patient relationship. The plaintiff did not engage him on his own accord for treatment or evaluation, but rather he instructed to meet with him by the Family Court, which appointed him.