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Montells v. Haynes

Decided: July 31, 1992.

JESSICA MONTELLS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
RONALD HAYNES, ROBERT WITTY, VINCENT SCARDA, ROBERT SANDLER, AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL GROUP, INC., AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL ADJUSTMENT COMPANY, INC., XYZ CORPORATION AND JOHN DOE, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County.

O'Brien, Havey and Conley. The opinion of the court was delivered by O'Brien, J.A.D.

O'brien

The opinion of the court was delivered by

O'BRIEN, J.A.D.

Plaintiff appeals from the dismissal of her eight-count complaint alleging various claims arising out of alleged sexual harassment and discrimination in her employment. We affirm.

Plaintiff was employed as a litigation examiner by defendant American International Adjustment Company, Inc. (AIA) from December 1986 until her resignation, which became effective May 13, 1987. She contends she was forced to resign from her position because of sexual harassment by her manager, defendant Ronald Haynes (Haynes) of which the other defendants tacitly approved since they failed to take remedial action despite her complaints.

On May 23, 1989, plaintiff filed an eight-count complaint. In the first count, after identifying all of the defendants and alleging that the actions of Haynes are imputed to them on the basis of respondeat superior, plaintiff alleges she was constructively wrongfully discharged because of the sexually hostile atmosphere created by Haynes. She alleges that Haynes' conduct discriminated against her in violation of the Law Against Discrimination (LAD) (N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to 38). After setting forth the factual basis of the sexual harassment, plaintiff alleges that as a result she suffered emotional and mental distress, has been deprived of the opportunity to pursue her normal course of employment and has otherwise been damaged,

seeking compensatory damages "for pain, suffering and humiliation, punitive damages, attorneys fees, interest and costs."

In the second count, plaintiff alleges a "second and separate cause of action." After repeating the allegations of the first count, she alleges that her employment contract, which was partially oral and partially written, implied a covenant of good faith and fair dealing which was violated and she seeks punitive damages "because the actions taken toward plaintiff were carried out by managerial employees acting in a deliberate, cold, callous and intentional manner in order to injure and damage her." The ad damnum clause again seeks compensatory damages for "pain, suffering and humiliation."

The third count alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress. The fourth count alleges that defendant negligently caused a sexually hostile atmosphere to exist which resulted in her constructive discharge. The fifth count alleges intentional interference with her future economic opportunity and earning capacity, and the sixth count alleges that such interference was negligent. The seventh count alleges that Haynes' conduct constituted negligent assault and battery upon her, and the eighth count alleges that his conduct constituted an intentional assault and battery. The ad damnum clause for each of these counts also seeks damages for "pain, suffering and humiliation." Answers were filed by all defendants except Vincent Scarda, who was not served. The complaint was dismissed as to defendant Maurice R. Greenberg for lack of in personam jurisdiction.

Initially, the trial Judge dismissed counts two through eight, concluding they were barred as not having been instituted within two years after the cause of action accrued under N.J.S.A. 2A:14-2. By leave granted, defendants appealed from the denial of their motion to dismiss the first count seeking damages for personal injuries sustained as a result of sexual harassment and discrimination in violation of LAD.

By our decision of April 10, 1991, bearing docket number A-4474-89T5F/A4475-89T5F, we remanded the matter to the trial Judge for reconsideration of his decision denying the motion to dismiss the first count. In that opinion we did not address the dismissal of counts two through eight as untimely under the two-year statute of limitations applicable to personal injury claims, since plaintiff had not cross-appealed from that determination and the issue was not before us. On remand, the trial Judge concluded that the two-year statute of limitations also applied to ...


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