Case Resolution for Patient’s Death Results in New Law

Having successfully tried two cases on a related matter, one involving the disappearance of a stillborn baby’s body at the Jersey City Medical Center, and, the other involving the failure of a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic, New Jersey, to notify the next of kin of the death of a loved one who died from an apparent drug overdose, Peter Fontana of Maplewood, New Jersey, contacted Blume Goldfaden partner, Mike Zerres, after he and his brother, Frank, arrived to visit their mother at a New Jersey hospital and were told she was no longer a patient. It was not until 10 hours later that they learned that their mother, Anna Fontana, an 83-year-old Hoboken civic leader, had died and that her body had already been transported to the hospital’s morgue.

Mr. Zerres agreed to handle the case on two conditions: one, that he would not charge a fee and, that two, that any recovery be donated to charity. Peter Fontana agreed and when the case resolved, without the need of filing a lawsuit, the entire settlement proceeds were made payable to the Hoboken Shelter Communities of Faith for Housing, a charity the late Mrs. Fontana supported. In addition, to ensure that other families do not have to experience the same emotional trauma following the death of a loved one, Peter Fontana sought the assistance of his local legislators to enact a new law requiring hospitals and other health care facilities in New Jersey to have procedures in place to promptly notify family members or designated persons of a patient’s death.