Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

POVEROMO-SPRING v. EXXON CORP.

June 25, 1997

Julia C. Poveromo-Spring, Joseph J. Spring, Jr., Plaintiffs,
v.
Exxon Corporation, John B. Sekel, M.D., Exxon Research & Engineering Co., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREENAWAY

 GREENAWAY, JR., District Judge

 INTRODUCTION

 This matter comes before me on plaintiffs' objections to Magistrate Judge Joel A. Pisano's Report and Recommendation of September 30, 1996. *fn1" All papers submitted in support of and in opposition to the objection have been considered. This Court, after engaging in a de novo review of the Report and Recommendation, grants, in part, and denies, in part, plaintiffs' motion. *fn2" 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1) (1990); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); Local Rules 40A3 & 40D5.

 Complaints may be dismissed when a plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R.Civ. P. 12(b)(6). In reaching this determination, courts are limited to the facts as stated in the complaint. Hauptmann v. Wilentz, 570 F. Supp. 351, 364 (D.N.J. 1983). The facts are accepted as true and viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 322, 92 S. Ct. 1079, 31 L. Ed. 2d 263 (1972); Schrob v. Catterson, 948 F.2d 1402, 1405 (3d Cir. 1991). No claim is dismissed unless the defendants demonstrate "beyond a doubt that plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of [her] claim which would entitle [her] to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S. Ct. 99, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957).

 FACTS

 Plaintiff Julia Poveromo-Spring ("Poveromo-Spring") started her employment with Exxon Research and Engineering Company ("Exxon Research") in 1965. In 1988, she transferred to Exxon Corporation ("Exxon"). *fn3" Plaintiff remained employed at Exxon as of the date of the Report and Recommendation. Her son, co-plaintiff Joseph J. Spring, Jr. ("Spring"), worked for Exxon from 1991 to 1993.

 On December 26, 1995, the plaintiffs brought a New Jersey state civil action against Exxon, Exxon Research, John B. Sekel, M.D. ("Sekel"), a physician employed by Exxon, the Independent Laboratory Employees' Union, Inc. (the "Union") and approximately three dozen co-workers and supervisors. The eighteen count complaint alleged that defendants violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a)(5)(A) (1990) ("ADA") and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 10:5-4.1 (West 1993) ("LAD"). The remaining counts alleged breach of and interference with the collective bargaining agreement, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, tortious interference with a contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, violation of privacy and wrongful discharge.

 Defendants removed plaintiffs' action to this Court in January of 1996. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a consent order dismissing their claims against the Union and all individual defendants, except Sekel. Plaintiffs jointly abandoned their breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing claim. Poveromo-Spring abandoned her tortious interference with contract claim and Spring abandoned his breach of contract claim.

 Thus, Poveromo-Spring's remaining claims are against (1) Exxon for alleged violations of the ADA, LAD, right to privacy, breach of an employment contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, wrongful disclosure of confidential medical information and breach of contract; (2) Exxon Research for alleged violations of the ADA and the LAD, intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract; and (3) Sekel for alleged violations of the ADA, LAD, intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation.

 Plaintiff Spring's remaining claims are against Exxon for alleged violations of the ADA, LAD and for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Spring asserts no causes of action against Exxon Research or Sekel.

 The three defendants moved for an Order of Dismissal as to the remaining counts and the matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Joel A. Pisano for a Report and Recommendation.

 POVEROMO-SPRING'S CLAIMS

 The complaint alleges facts which arise out of instances which took place both during and subsequent to Poveromo-Spring's July 1991 summer vacation. While on vacation, Poveromo-Spring took ill and her doctor diagnosed her with an unspecified brain ailment. As a result of the illness, Poveromo-Spring missed work for approximately three months in the late summer and fall of 1991. Poveromo-Spring asserts that her malady classifies her as a "handicapped person" under the LAD and a "qualified individual with a disability" under the ADA. *fn4"

 Upon her return to work, Poveromo-Spring asserts that Richard Dooley ("Dooley"), an Exxon Financial Supervisor, refused to make the recommended accommodations. Dooley set out his reasons for refusal in letters sent to the manager of Financial Services, the Human Resources Department and others.

 Poveromo-Spring voiced her concerns about Dooley's conduct to Exxon's legal department, Union officials and the company nurse. They, in turn, suggested that Poveromo-Spring remove herself from Dooley's supervision by transferring out of the Financial Division. Poveromo-Spring alleges that, under duress, she accepted this suggestion and submitted a written transfer request. On November 12, 1991, Exxon transferred Poveromo-Spring to the Scheduling Office, a transfer which Poveromo-Spring claims is a demotion.

 Poveromo-Spring asserts that Dooley's actions violate the ADA and the LAD and Exxon likewise violated the statutes when it approved Dooley's actions.

 Fran Sciacchitano ("Sciacchitano") supervised Poveromo-Spring in the Scheduling Office. Poveromo-Spring, who had previously worked for Sciacchitano from April 1988 to September 1990, states that during that time Sciacchitano evaluated Poveromo-Spring favorably and promoted her. Poveromo-Spring alleges that after Sciacchitano learned of her disability, Sciacchitano's favorable conduct towards her changed into conduct which could only be described as hostile and harassing. Sciacchitano's conduct towards Poveromo-Spring allegedly caused Poveromo-Spring's co-workers to treat her similarly, i.e., with hostility.

 On February 3, 1992, Poveromo-Spring suffered a seizure at work. She proffers that the seizure resulted in a heightened degree of mistreatment from Sciacchitano and others.

 Poveromo-Spring alleges that her complaints of mistreatment went unanswered by the legal department, Human Resources and other Exxon employees. She asserts that their inaction violates the ADA and the LAD.

 Poveromo-Spring further alleges that on the 7th and 24th of October 1991, defendant Sekel discussed her medical condition with her personal physician and separately with various Exxon employees. She further asserts that Exxon approved the conversations without her consent and with the intention of inflicting emotional harm upon her. As such, she seeks relief from Sekel for intentional infliction of emotional duress.

 In May of 1992, Poveromo-Spring's complaints of harassment, mistreatment and failure to grant reasonable accommodations caused Exxon to transfer her from the Scheduling Office to the Library and Media Center of the Technology Services Division. *fn5" As with the previous assignment, Poveromo-Spring asserts that her superiors and co-workers harassed and mistreated her and failed to provide reasonable accommodations for her disability. Additionally, her superiors and co-workers defamed her work performance, instructed her to seek counseling, delayed her promotion and assigned her to menial tasks. Poveromo-Spring asserts that all of these actions violate the ADA and the LAD and were done with Exxon's approval.

 She further proffers that during both assignments Sekel improperly conveyed her medical diagnosis, including an incorrect HIV diagnosis, to her superiors and co-workers.

 SPRING'S CLAIMS

 Spring's civil action is premised upon his belief that Exxon discriminated against him because of his relationship with Poveromo-Spring.

 Spring claims that from December 1989 to November 1993, the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") and the United States Attorney's Office ("USAO"), conducted a fraud investigation into an Exxon laboratory. From April 1988 to September 1990, Poveromo-Spring and Sciacchitano worked in this laboratory together. Poveromo-Spring reported to Sciacchitano. Per Spring, Sciacchitano, a target of the investigation, was cleared of any misconduct.

 Spring asserts that agents from the United States Department of Defense and the FBI conducted a home interview of his mother. The interview attempted to elicit information about any illegal activities at the laboratory. Spring asserts that his mother was the only Exxon employee to receive a home visit from government agents. Spring further states that as a result of the interview, Sciacchitano continually harassed, and discriminated against, Poveromo-Spring. As a result of this treatment, Poveromo-Spring asked for and received a departmental transfer. Shortly before the transfer Sciacchitano told Poveromo-Spring that she "[would] get even with her".

 Spring states that on May 20, 1991, Sciacchitano and Exxon hired him to work for Exxon and on December 31, 1993, (approximately a month after the government ended its investigation) terminated his employment. Although Sciacchitano asserts Spring's termination occurred because of financial considerations, Spring proffers that he lost his position because Poveromo-Spring is his mother. As proof, the complaint alleges that within one month after his (Spring's) termination, defendants hired certain persons from temporary agencies to replace him. These allegations provide the basis for Spring's ADA, LAD and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims.

 Exxon Corporation

 The LAD Claims

 Poveromo-Spring

 The dispositive issue here is whether a two- or six-year statute of limitations is applicable to LAD claims.

 Poveromo-Spring and Spring filed their complaint on December 26, 1995. If a two-year statute of limitations applies, only discriminatory actions which occurred between the filing date and December 26, 1993 could provide a basis for plaintiff's relief, barring any exceptions.

 Magistrate Judge Pisano recommends dismissing Poveromo-Spring's LAD claims, which are based on facts arising before July 27, 1993, pursuant to his finding that the claims are time-barred under Standard v. Vas, 279 N.J. Super. 251, 255-56, 652 A.2d 746 (App. Div. 1995), which imposes a two-year statute of limitations. The Magistrate Judge also recommends dismissal of claims based on facts occurring between July 27, 1993 and December 26, 1993, pursuant to his finding that such claims are time-barred under Montells v. Haynes, 133 N.J. 282, 292, 627 A.2d 654 (1993). Plaintiffs argue that a six-year statute of limitations is applicable.

 In Montells, the Supreme Court of New Jersey held that LAD claims based on events occurring after July 27, 1993 (the date of the Montells opinion) are governed by a two-year ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.