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Sunday, February 12, 2017

GREG NOREN VS. HEARTLAND PAYMENT SYSTEMS, INC. A-2651-13T3


GREG NOREN VS. HEARTLAND PAYMENT SYSTEMS, INC.
          A-2651-13T3
In this appeal, plaintiff conceded a jury-waiver provision in his employment contract applied to his breach of contract claim against his employer but argued it did not apply to his claim that defendant violated the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), N.J.S.A. 34:19 to -14. The provision in the employment contract stated the parties "irrevocably waive any right to trial by jury in any suit, action or proceeding under, in connection with or to enforce this Agreement." There was no reference to statutorily conferred rights or to causes of action arising from plaintiff's employment. We conclude the jury-waiver provision failed to clearly and unambiguously explain the right to a jury trial was waived as to a CEPA claim and remand for a jury trial on that issue. We further vacate the counsel fee award to defendant of over $2 million and remand to the trial court to determine what portion of the award is warranted for the defense against the breach of contract claims.