N.J. Malpractice Insurer Ordered to Pay $15.3 Million

February 20, 2005

An insurance company for a prominent Bergen County, New Jersey eye surgeon must pay $15.3 million to cover malpractice claims made by 16 former patients, a Superior Court judge has ruled.

Princeton Insurance Co. claimed an arbitrator’s ruling that settled the dispute between the plaintiffs and Dr. Joseph Dello Russo, a Bergenfield physician, was unfair.

Dello Russo joined with the plaintiffs in contending that the insurance company should pay the award.

In a series of lawsuits dating to 1991, the plaintiffs claimed they sustained permanent injuries while being treated at Dello Russo’s New Jersey Eye Center, and some claimed they were treated by employees who were not licensed to provide such services.

Judge Lawrence Smith ruled that the arbitration was fair and ordered the company to cover the claims up to its policy limit. Interstate Insurance, another carrier that provided coverage for Dello Russo, has already agreed to pay $3 million to the plaintiffs.

Bruce Nagel, an attorney who represented eight of the patients, praised the decision, saying, “It’s time that the carrier pay up for the malpractice of Dr. Dello Russo.”

Smith later placed a gag order on all attorneys in the case until next week, but would not comment on why it was issued.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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