In the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy and the ensuing statewide gasoline shortage, appellant, the executive director of a regional sewerage authority, permitted some essential employees to fuel their private vehicles from the Authority's gasoline pump. She also permitted a member of the Authority's board of commissioners, who was an employee and authorized to sign authority checks, to gas up his private vehicle after asking him to find food for the Authority's employees at nearby restaurants and to "commandeer" a local gas station to meet the needs of the essential employees.
By permitting the board member to use Authority gas, the Local Finance Board (LFB) concluded appellant violated N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5(c), a provision of the Local Government Ethics Law (LGEL), N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 to -22.25, which provides: "No local government officer or employee shall use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for himself or others."
The court reversed, concluding that this provision of the LGEL, unlike others, requires proof of a specific intent on the part of the local officer to secure the unwarranted privilege or advantage. In addition, the court concludes the gasoline appellant secured for the board member and employee was not an "unwarranted privilege or advantage" under the statute.
The Court reiterates its holding in Olds that the entire controversy doctrine does not compel a client to assert a legal malpractice claim against an attorney in the underlying litigation in which the attorney represents the client. 150 N.J. at 443. However, the collection action at issue in this matter was not an “underlying action” as that term is used in Olds, and the entire controversy doctrine may bar the claim. The record of this appeal, however, is inadequate for an application of the equitable rules that govern here.
In this case, because the record lacks clear and convincing evidence that respondent orchestrated the alleged misconduct, the OAE’s complaint must be dismissed. That said, the record highlights a series of troublesome practices and leaves a number of questions unanswered. The Court briefly addresses some of those areas to offer guidance to private practitioners and prosecutors.
The admissibility of medical expert testimony utilizing terms such as “somatization” and “symptom magnification” must be determined by trial courts on a case-by-case basis, consistent with N.J.R.E. 403, and there was no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s allowing use of those terms under the circumstances of this case. The Court disagrees with the Appellate Division’s equation of the terms used by the experts with the term “malingering.” The Court also disagrees with the panel’s determination that one of defendant’s experts, who is a neurologist rather than a mental-health specialist, was not qualified to testify about somatization or symptom magnification. The Court concurs, however, with the Appellate Division’s determination that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting into evidence at trial plaintiff’s past medical history.
Appellant was denied promotion to the position of sergeant when his employer chose the first, third and fourth police officers from a certified list, skipping over appellant who placed second; the first and third are Caucasian officers, while appellant and the fourth are African-American. The Civil Service Commission denied appellant's claim of retaliation arising from grievances about an earlier promotion; in so acting, the Commission did not conduct an evidentiary hearing but simply rejected what it called appellant's "mere allegations" that the employer retaliated against him. The court remanded for an evidentiary hearing so the parties' factual disputes could be resolved and so the Commission might determine – even if not expressly or clearly raised previously – whether the employer's reasons for skipping over appellant were unlawfully pretextual.
The legal question in this appeal is whether, as a matter of law, a police officer is ineligible for ordinary disability benefits as a member of the Police & Firemen's Retirement System (PFRS) if the officer separates from service by irrevocably resigning from employment to resolve pending drug-related disciplinary charges. Recognizing that N.J.S.A. 43:16A-8(2) requires disability retirees to return to duty once their disability has "vanished or has materially diminished," and emphasizing that an irrevocable resignation makes returning to duty impossible and therefore deprives the PFRS Board of Trustees from terminating benefits, this court held that such a member is ineligible.