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Mensone v. New Jersey Department of Civil Service

Decided: March 22, 1954.

JAMES J. MENSONE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL SERVICE AND THE CITY OF VINELAND, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



Clapp, Goldmann and Ewart. The opinion of the court was delivered by Ewart, J.A.D.

Ewart

[30 NJSuper Page 219] In the year 1930 plaintiff was first employed as borough engineer by the Borough of Vineland

and continued in such employment and office from February 7, 1930 until August 27, 1952, excepting only that he was absent serving in the armed forces of the United States from April 1942 until April of 1945, and excepting a short period when he was given leave of absence because of ill health following his release from the Army. On August 27, 1952 he was ousted as engineer without a hearing and without charges having been preferred against him, and Albert H. Stubee was appointed engineer in his place.

On July 1, 1952 the Borough of Vineland and the adjoining Township of Landis were consolidated and became the present City of Vineland.

The Borough of Vineland, and later the City of Vineland, paid the plaintiff his compensation as borough engineer, and city engineer, without question during the years of his service up to August 27, 1952. Prior to 1948 his salary was on a yearly basis, payable weekly. Commencing June 1, 1948 his salary continued on a yearly basis but was made payable in semi-monthly installments.

In 1946 the Borough of Vineland adopted the provisions of the Civil Service Act and at that time plaintiff was placed in the classified service as borough engineer, and in 1947 the borough, by resolution, adopted the classification and salary schedule of the Civil Service classification officer.

By reason of certain correspondence between the solicitor of the city and the Chief Examiner and Secretary of the Civil Service Commission in July of 1952, the Secretary of the Civil Service Commission arrived at the conclusion that plaintiff had been improperly placed in the classified service and changed his classification to the unclassified service. Thereupon plaintiff appealed to the Civil Service Commission, which conducted a hearing on May 5, 1953 at which the Commission determined: (1) that plaintiff had been a de facto and not a de jure officer of the borough and city because his position as borough and later as city engineer had no legal premise or foundation by way of ordinance or resolution authorizing the same; (2) that plaintiff had been improperly placed in the classified service; and (3) that the

action of the City of Vineland in terminating plaintiff's services as city engineer and in removing his name from the payroll was proper and should be affirmed and the appeal dismissed.

From the determination of the Civil Service Commission plaintiff appeals to this court and now here asserts:

(1) That the Civil Service Commission erred in ruling that he was a de facto and not a de jure officer.

(2) That the Civil Service Commission erred in having ruled that he held an office for a fixed period of time and was therefore ...


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