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

Monday, August 6, 2007

Jeanne Klawitter and Dennis J. DeBonis v. City of Trenton

07-31-07 A-0208-05T5

This appeal by the City of Trenton presents two distinct
issues regarding employment-related claims by two members of the Trenton Police Department.

Klawitter's claim of reverse discrimination based on race
in the denial of a promotion resulted in a jury verdict in her
favor. We affirmed. We rejected the City's argument that it
was permissible to use race as a "plus" factor. The City
maintained at trial that race was not a factor in any respect.
It did not present evidence or argue that race was considered as
a plus factor. Further, race can be used as a plus factor only
pursuant to an established affirmative action plan. The City
did not establish the existence of such a plan.

DeBonis, a sergeant, filed for retirement but, within
thirty days of the effective date, sought to cancel his
retirement as authorized by a pension regulation, N.J.A.C. 17:4-
6.3, and requested to be rehired to a vacant sergeant position.
The City refused, informing DeBonis that, pursuant to civil
service regulations, his name could be placed on a reemployment
list. The trial court granted partial summary judgment on
liability in favor of DeBonis and a jury awarded him damages.
We reversed, holding that DeBonis' right to cancel his
retirement under pension regulations did not entitle him to
immediate reemployment, which, instead, was controlled by
priorities promulgated by civil service laws and regulations.