ASSEMBLY, No. 2289
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 2, 2012
Assemblyman PATRICK J. DIEGNAN, JR.
District 18 (Middlesex)
Assemblyman SEAN CONNORS
District 33 (Hudson)
Assemblyman P.Barnes, III, Assemblywomen Lampitt, Sumter and Assemblyman Gusciora
Requires affidavits for civil actions concerning certain mental health professionals.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
As reported by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on May 21, 2012, with amendments.
An Act concerning 1[certain proceedings in family court] certain mental health professionals1 and supplementing Title 2A of the New Jersey Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. a. 1As used in this act, “mental health professional” means a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or other licensed professional who has been appointed by the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part as a child custody evaluator, therapist, mediator, parent coordinator, parent educator, case manager, or similar position.
b.1 Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, a 1[licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or other licensed]1 mental health professional 1[who has been appointed by the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part as a child custody evaluator, therapist, mediator, parent coordinator, parent educator, case manager, or similar position]1 shall be presumed to be acting in good faith, consistent with accepted ethical standards of the profession, and shall be presumed to have reasonably complied with: (1) the regulations and requirements of the applicable professional licensing boards, and (2) all other applicable statutes and regulations.
1[b. (1)] c.1 No 1person who is a1 party in a proceeding in the Family Part that involves a child custody evaluation, therapy, mediation, parent education, or case management in which a 1[psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or other licensed]1 mental health professional has been appointed 1[pursuant to subsection a. of this section]1 may bring an action or complaint against the 1[psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or other licensed]1 mental health professional in any court in this State or any professional licensing board unless the party 1[first]1 obtains the 1[approval of that court pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subsection] affidavit set forth in subsection e. of this section1.
1[(2) Approval shall be
granted only if the party]
d. A mental health professional shall not be held liable in a civil action
or in any proceeding before a professional licensing board that is brought by a
person who is a party in a Family Part action that involves a child custody
evaluation, unless the person bringing the action1 overcomes the
presumptions set forth in section 1[a.] b.1 of this act. The
presumptions may be overcome if the party shows by clear and
convincing evidence that the 1[psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or other licensed]1 mental health professional engaged in intentional misconduct or acted in a reckless or grossly negligent manner in violation of: (a) accepted standards of mental health care, (b) accepted ethical standards of the profession, (c) a regulation or requirement of the applicable professional licensing board, or (d) any other applicable statute or regulation.
1[(3) In any civil action or administrative proceeding, the psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or other licensed mental health professional shall not be held liable for any act or omission committed within the scope of his court-ordered appointment unless the appointing judge finds by clear and convincing evidence that he has acted in a reckless or grossly negligent manner or engaged in intentional misconduct, and such reckless or grossly negligent conduct or intentional misconduct was the proximate cause of the injury or damage alleged. ]1
1e. In any civil action or administrative proceeding against a mental health professional, the plaintiff shall, within 60 days following the date of filing of the answer to the complaint by the defendant, provide each defendant with an affidavit of an appropriate licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or other licensed mental health professional that there exists a reasonable probability that the defendant acted in a reckless or grossly negligent manner or engaged in intentional misconduct. The court may grant no more than one additional period, not to exceed 60 days, to file the affidavit pursuant to this section, upon a finding of good cause.
The person executing the affidavit shall be licensed in this or any other state and have particular expertise in the general area or specialty involved in the action, as evidenced by board certification or by devotion of the person's practice substantially to the general area or specialty involved in the action for a period of at least five years. The person shall have no financial interest in the outcome of the case under review, but this prohibition shall not exclude the person from being an expert witness in the case.
An affidavit shall not be required if the plaintiff provides a sworn statement in lieu of the affidavit setting forth that: the defendant has failed to provide plaintiff with any records or information having a substantial bearing on preparation of the affidavit; a written request therefor along with, if necessary, a signed authorization by the plaintiff for release of records or information requested, has been made by certified mail or personal service; and at least 45 days have elapsed since the defendant received the request.
If the plaintiff fails to provide an affidavit or a statement in lieu thereof, pursuant to this section, it shall be deemed a failure to state a cause of action.1
2. This act shall take effect immediately and shall be applicable to all matters filed with the court or filed with a licensing board on or after the effective date.