On appeal from Superior Court, Law Division, Cumberland County.
Before Judges Pressler, Landau and Newman.
The opinion of the court was delivered by LANDAU, J.A.D.
Plaintiff-appellant Sonia Ornes (Ornes) appeals from a grant of summary judgment entered in favor of defendants-respondents New Jersey Department of Corrections and Southern State Correctional Facility (the State), and in favor of defendant-respondent Marine Italian Bakery (Marine), on Ornes's civil action for damages arising out of her assault and rape by defendant Lonnie Daniels.
At the time of the incident, Daniels was an inmate at Southern State Correctional Facility and was employed at Marine's bakery under a prison work-release program.
The State's summary judgment motion was granted by reason of its immunity under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act (N.J.S.A. 59:1-1 et seq.). Summary judgment was awarded to Marine on the basis of derivative immunity. Default judgment was entered against Daniels for failure to plead or otherwise defend.
Ornes was attacked in an alley adjacent to the bakery by Daniels during his working hours under the program. Admission to such program is authorized by N.J.S.A. 30:4-91.3 and applicable Department of Corrections "guidelines."*fn1 In pertinent part, the statute provides that:
The commissioner or his duly authorized agent or agents may extend the limits of the place of confinement of a prisoner [to] . . . work at paid employment . . . in the community on a voluntary basis while continuing as a prisoner of the institution or facility to which he is committed . . .
The guidelines to the program state that purpose of the work-release program is to:
Provide a program in New Jersey correctional institutions whereby selected inmates, prior to parole or expiration of maximum sentence, are released for a daily scheduled period of time to engage in full or part time employment in the community at an approved work opportunity . . .
Pursuant to the guidelines, both an inmate and an employer must satisfy a number of criteria before inclusion in the work-release program. A potential employer must be evaluated by a prison official for the following:
a. Credibility of the ...