Kenneth Mr. Vercammen was included in the 2020 “Super Lawyers” list published by Thomson Reuters.

To schedule a confidential consultation, email us at, call or visit

(732) 572-0500

Sunday, June 10, 2018


Plaintiff in this wrongful death and survival action principally appeals from the trial court's ruling to exclude from evidence at trial a Certificate of Death that was issued following an examination by the county deputy medical examiner. On the date of the accident, decedent and plaintiff were shopping at defendant's supermarket. Decedent was using a motorized cart. As she went down a narrow aisle, her cart's basket caught on a cash register station, causing the station to fall on her. The accident injured her leg. Decedent stated she was fine and went home, but four days later she was taken to the hospital with complications. She died the following morning.After a deputy medical examiner inspected decedent's body, a Certificate of Death was issued. The Certificate stated that the manner of her death was an "accident" and that the cause of death was "complications of blunt trauma of [the] right lower extremity." The examiner's associated report reiterated these conclusions in more detail. The panel holds that the State Medical Examiner Act, N.J.S.A. 52:17B-92, despite its broad language, does not provide an absolute right to a civil plaintiff to admit the full contents of the Certificate of Death. The hearsay opinions within the Certificate were properly excluded by the trial court under N.J.R.E. 808, the net opinion doctrine, and pertinent case law. Further, the hearsay exception for vital statistics, N.J.R.E. 803(c)(9), does not require admission of the examiner's opinions.