Legislator-Doctor Misrepresented Credentials in Delaware Case

By Michael Zerres

Doctor Was Sponsor of Medical Malpractice Legislation Aimed at Curbing Similar Conduct

In a Delaware medical malpractice case, it was discovered that a New Jersey general surgeon misrepresented his credentials. The surgeon, Dr. Eric Munoz, is also an NJ legislator. Previously, he had proposed a law that requires an expert in a medical malpractice case in NJ to be board certified in the same specialty as the doctor being sued and to have devoted the majority of his professional time to the practice of that same specialty.

Apparently, what should be the law in NJ does not apply to Dr. Munoz when he testifies in other states, as in the Delaware case, Dr. Munoz tried to pass himself off as a board-certified specialist in Emergency Medicine in a case there against an ER doctor.

In Sammons v. Doctors for Emergency Services, Dr. Munoz submitted an Affidavit of Merit which was kept under seal during the pendency of the litigation. Delaware law, similar to NJ law, requires an Affidavit of Merit as to each defendant signed by an expert witness, who is board certified in the same field as the defendant. At trial, the defense prevailed. Suspicions arose about the Affidavit of Merit filed under seal as to the ER defendants as plaintiff did not produce an ER expert at trial. Instead, Dr. Munoz, a surgeon, was plaintiff’s only expert against the ER defendants. At trial, Dr. Munoz admitted he had never been board certified in ER medicine even though he falsely represented that he was on his website. The Court, believing it had may have misled, reviewed the Affidavit of Merit filed under seal as to the ER defendants (which had been signed by Dr. Munoz) and found that since Dr. Munoz was not board certified in ER medicine, the case should not have been allowed to proceed against the ER defendants. Calling him a “professional witness,” the Court also found that Dr. Munoz was the type of “expert” that Delaware law intended to preclude from testifying, as not only was he professing to be an expert in ER medicine, but the doctor had also testified on other cases as an “expert” in gynecologic oncology, orthopedics, dermatology, gynecology, neurology, obstetrics and hand surgery.

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