Kilkenny, Labrecque and Leonard. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kilkenny, P.J.A.D.
[111 NJSuper Page 24] The eight individual defendants and the board of education of Central Regional High School District in the County of Ocean (hereinafter "board of education") appeal from a judgment in favor of plaintiff and against them, based upon a verdict awarding plaintiff (a) $9600 for compensatory damages against the board of
education; (b) no compensatory damages against the eight individual defendants, and (c) punitive damages against each of the eight individual defendants for the following respective amounts: (1) Howard S. Harms -- $3000; (2) Anthony W. Raymond -- $2000; (3) Edwin L. Voll -- $2000; (4) David J. Bentz -- $3000; (5) Frank Deacon -- $2000; (6) Thomas E. Moeller -- $2000; (7) Joseph Boyd -- $2000, and (8) Thomas A. Peterson, Jr. -- $2000.
Defendants' motion for a new trial was denied.
There is no cross-appeal by plaintiff.
The pretrial order refers to the nature of the action as one for "Malicious interference with plaintiff's contractual relations and conspiracy." Plaintiff sought both compensatory and punitive damages against all defendants, including the board of education. While there is reference in paragraph 7 of the pretrial order to "breach of contract" as one of the several issues listed therein, and the order amending item 5 of the pretrial order relating to damages refers to breach of the 1966-67 and 1967-68 contracts, the trial court ruled as a matter of law that there was no breach of contract involved in this case. Hence, any award by the jury may not be legally justified on the concept of "breach of contract."
Plaintiff's brief confirms, as he maintains in his point I, "Plaintiff's action against defendants was for malicious interference with his employment." A recital of the basic facts will make clear the issues involved.
On August 2, 1966 defendant board of education entered into a written contract with plaintiff whereby it engaged him to act as principal of the high school from August 1, 1966 to June 30, 1967, at a salary of $12,000. On April 24, 1967 the board renewed plaintiff's contract for the period July 1, 1967 to June 30, 1968 at an annual salary of $13,000. Both contracts contained the following provision:
It is hereby agreed by the parties hereto that this contract may at any time be terminated by either party giving to the other sixty days notice in writing of intention to terminate the same, but that
in the absence of any provision herein for a definite number of days notice, the contract shall run for the full term named above.
After two attempts by the board to terminate plaintiff's 1967-1968 employment contract under the 60-day provision, each of which ended in a tie vote, the board finally mustered a majority vote of 5-3 at its meeting of June 12, 1967 and rescinded plaintiff's contract. He was paid for the 60 days of notice required, and accepted the payment, although he asserts he did not receive written notice of the intended termination.
AS TO THE JUDGMENT AGAINST THE BOARD ...