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Costello v. City of Brigantine

June 28, 2001

JOHN J. COSTELLO AND BARBARA COSTELLO, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF BRIGANTINE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Simandle, District Judge

OPINION

Presently before the Court is a round of motions filed by all parties in this case and arising out of a complaint filed by plaintiffs John and Barbara Costello, who allege that defendants the City of Brigantine, Brigantine City Manager Thomas Ciccarone, Brigantine Councilman James Frugoli, and others successfully conspired to oust John Costello from his job as Director/Superintendent of the City's Department of Public Works and Utilities in retaliation for his efforts to remedy pervasive corruption and mismanagement in every department of that agency. All Counts of plaintiff's Amended Complaint but one state claims under state law. The state laws claims include wrongful discharge in violation of the New Jersey Conscientious Employees Protection Act (CEPA) (Count I), defamation (Counts IV-IX), intentional infliction of emotional distress (Counts X & XI), (4) malicious interference with prospective economic advantage (Count XII), and abuse of process (Count XIII). Only plaintiffs' Count XIV, which alleges that he was fired in retaliation for exercise of his First Amendment rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, provides this Court with subject matter jurisdiction over this non-diverse case.

There are three groups of defendants, each represented by separate counsel. The groups are: (1) the "City defendants" (City of Brigantine, Thomas Ciccarone, and James Frugoli); (2) the "Media defendants" (South Jersey Radio, Inc., Lisa Johnson and Kara Silver); and (3) the "Union defendants" (Lakes, Marrandino, Parks, Doring, Yeoman, Tucker, and Teamsters Local No. 331). Each group has filed or joined in motions for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56, Fed. R. Civ. P. In response, plaintiffs have filed cross-motions for summary judgment seeking preclusion of certain evidence, and seeking dismissal of certain defenses by the Union defendants. The Court will address these various motions in this consolidated Opinion.

I. BACKGROUND *fn1

A. Costello's Reforms at the Brigantine DPW

On April 10, 1985, defendant Thomas Ciccarone ("Ciccarone"), the City Manager of defendant Brigantine, New Jersey ("the City" or "Brigantine"), hired plaintiff John T. Costello ("Costello") as Superintendent/Director of the City's Department of Public Works ("DPW"). (Pl. Counter-Statement Mat. Facts ("Pl. Mat. Facts") at 1.) Ciccarone supervised Costello, and had sole authority to hire and fire him and other employees of the DPW. (Id. at 2.)

It is undisputed that Costello discovered serious problems at the DPW soon after being named its Director. These problems included the following:

ù Trash and debris were stored in the city-owned well houses from which water was pumped for consumption by citizens of the city. The unsanitary conditions in the well houses created a potential public health hazard. (Id. at 2.)

ù Defendant William Lakes, a DPW employee stored "junk" in these well houses to be kept there until he transported the items home to be resold at private yard sales. (Id. at 3.)

ù DPW employees had virtually no time accountability, came and went from the job freely, and punched each others' time cards. (Id. at 16.)

ù There was pervasive abuse of sick leave, pervasive abuse of Workers Compensation Laws and frequent submission of bogus workers compensation claims. (Id. at 19.)

ù The DPW had no formal policy or training concerning workplace sexual harassment issues. (Id. at 8.)

ù Defendants Lakes, John Parks, Jr., John Doring and Paul Marrandino, all full time City employees, all devoted part of their work days to furthering privately owned businesses that they operated for personal gain. (Id. at 23.)

ù Many water services within the City had no meters and were "jumped out" to provide water without charge to users. (Id. at 5.)

ù City owned scrap metals were being given or sold to private vendors without compensation to the City. (Id. at 7.)

Upon discovering these and other substantial problems within the DPW, Costello took corrective measures including establishment of a maintenance schedule for Brigantine's Water Department, cleaning the pump rooms, inspecting and repairing the city's water meters, installing a time clock at the DPW, implementing a comprehensive work order program, reducing sick time and workers compensation abuses, and promulgating sexual harassment policies.

During his tenure as DPW Director, Costello also instituted several proactive measures including a program to clean up Brigantine, improvement of DPW's trucks and heavy equipment, and hiring an independent contractor to oversee and make maps of Brigantine's water distribution system. Costello's efforts paid off, and under his direction the DPW reached new levels of consumer satisfaction. Private and public groups wrote numerous letters to the DPW congratulating it on a job well done. Costello also received letters commending him for his outstanding job performance. (See Letters attached as Ex. C. to Costello Aff., Pl. Ex. M.) Edward H. Kay, Brigantine's Deputy Mayor for the past eight years, testified that Costello was the finest Director DPW ever had, and that everyone said Costello had made Brigantine the cleanest it had ever been. (Kay Dep. at 26:22-27:2, Pl. Ex. C.)

There is, however, evidence that Costello's management style was heavy-handed. Some DPW employees were unhappy both with Costello's reform efforts and his purportedly harsh manner. Ernest Purdy, a supervisor within the DPW while Mr. Costello was DPW director, testified that he recalled a "stack of [union] grievances" concerning Costello's workplace demeanor. (Purdy Dep. at 61:1-13, Pl. Ex. D.) Purdy was the supervisor in charge of carrying out many of Costello's directives, and thus served as a lightning rod for workers' complaints about Costello. During Costello's tenure, Purdy testified, employees Dennis McKenna, George Moore, Joe Wilkins, Roy Howe, John DiMatteo, Mike O'Brien, Pete Phillips, Norman D'Ambrosio, Nick Manera and Lenny Sincara all complained at one time or another about Costello being too hard on them. (Id. at 84:6-85:25.) Costello counters that most of these grievances were bogus, having been filed by DPW employees upset at his accountability measures. According to Costello, the majority of employees were happy with his initiatives. Costello felt that most employees at the DPW were glad that there was equity and that everyone was expected to pull their own load, as opposed to how things had been at the DPW in the past, when the more senior employees were allowed to take it easy while everyone else did the work. (Costello Dep. at 340:1-11.)

While the merits of the grievances remains disputed, several witnesses have corroborated defendants' assertion that Costello management style was gruff and demeaning. According to Norman D'Ambrosio, a DPW foreman, Costello regularly belittled and humiliated city employees. D'Ambrosio testified that Lakes complained that Costello was "riding him too hard," and assigned him to do demeaning tasks within the DPW such as cleaning sewers, shoveling mud in a pond, and washing equipment in the rain. (D'Ambrosio Dep. at 23:9-29:20, 47:8-49, Pl. Ex. E.) D'Ambrosio also testified that Costello "harassed" DPW employee Joseph Manera by taking him off his normal duty as a heavy equipment operator, assigning him to paint a DPW bathroom, and then making him repaint it again until it met Costello's approval. (Id. at 58-59.) After Mr. Manera's painting assignment, D'Ambrosio complained to Mr. Ciccarone about skilled city workers being assigned to do busywork. (Id. at 49:2-60:4.) D'Ambrosio also maintains that Costello made threatening comments to City employees like "who could I pick on today?" and "Hitler would love me." (Id. at 110:9-113:23.)

B. Costello's Conflicts with Defendants Marrandino, Lakes, Parks and Doring

Plaintiffs contends that defendants Marrandino, Lakes, Parks and Doring were directly and negatively affected by Costello's appointment as DPW Director. In addition to resenting Costello because he assigned work that they considered "demeaning", these defendants, who were known within the DPW and City Council as the "Wolf Pack" because of their tendency to band together (see Kay Dep. at 16:11-16 to 18:4), had a financial motive to resent Costello--his reforms interfered with their ability to run their private businesses during work hours. Defendant Lakes operated an insulation business and stored insulation materials on DPW grounds. Costello ordered that the storage stop. (Purdy Dep. at 48:22-49:9.) Marrandino had a concrete business on the side, and received calls at the DPW concerning private-sector work. Costello prevented him from taking further business-related calls. (Purdy Dep. at 29:14-21.) Doring, who was a DPW mechanic, occasionally fixed private vehicles in the DPW garage for personal gain and using DPW supplies. Although Costello repeatedly ordered Doring to stop, the practice continued through Costello's termination. (Costello Dep. at 39:20-25; 42:23-25.) On several occasions, Costello sent these defendants memos criticizing their productivity, which they interpreted as Costello setting them up to be fired. (See Parks Dep. at 141:20-22; 144:3-6, Pl. Ex. I.)

In addition to curtailing DPW employees' ability to engage in private employment while on the public payroll, Costello also hurt the Union's pocketbook. Costello alleges that the Union was unhappy with him because his reforms reduced the number of employees at the DPW from 36 to 25 employees during the three-and-a-half years he directed the DPW. (Costello Dep. at 121:15-22.) The reduction in DPW employees reduced the number of dues-paying Union members, and diminished the Union's funds. Costello also alleges that he alarmed Union leadership because of his interest in privatizing certain aspects of the DPW. For instance, Costello lobbied to privatize the irrigation division of the DPW, and brought in a private contractor to maintain the city's sprinklers. (Tucker Dep. at 131:1-6.) Costello's efforts to streamline the department and turn some responsibilities over to private firms angered the Union, because privatization naturally meant fewer public jobs, and new, non-union, private employers could mean a loss of revenue for the Union.

In response to Costello's reforms, the Union and defendants Marrandino, Lakes, Doring and Parks allegedly embarked on a campaign of filing false grievances and complaints against Costello in order to discredit Costello within the City, and to destroy his credibility and effectiveness as Director. (Costello Dep. at 447:9-19.) Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement governing DPW workers' employment, the City reserved the right to determine employees' work schedules, and the quality and quantity of work assigned. (CBA Art. III, Pl. Ex. K.) The CBA makes no reference to seniority. Consequently, Costello, as DPW director, had full authority to assign work to DPW employees without consideration of the length of time the worker had been at the DPW. Regardless of the terms of the CBA, the Union defendants repeatedly filed grievances against Costello about their work assignments, and insisted that they should receive favorable assignments because of their seniority. (Pl. Mat. Facts ¶ 298.) In contrast to most workers, who filed grievances with Costello, the Union defendants' grievances went directly to Ciccarone without a copy to Costello. (Id. ¶ 307.) Most often, these grievances were vague and unsupported, and the Union abandoned the charges without a hearing. (See Ciccarone Dep. at 58:15-24.) Plaintiffs also allege that the Wolf Pack defendants began to harass other DPW employees in an effort to undermine Costello. For instance, Costello testified that he was advised by Mr. Bell, a DPW worker, that defendant Marrandino, a large man, told him that if he kept talking to Costello, he would be beaten up. (Pl. Mat. Facts ¶ 417.) Defendant Parks testified that when any of the Union defendants were criticized by Costello for inappropriate or improper conduct, the Wolf Pack defendants deduced that Costello's information must have come from a "rat", i.e., someone who "runs back and tells the boss what's going on." (Parks Dep. at 177:24-25.) The Wolf Pack developed a "rat grapevine" in order to determine who was providing Costello with information. Once someone had been identified as a "rat," that employee would be shunned and intimidated by the Union defendants. (Id. at 178:23-25.)

C. Costello's Clashes with Councilman Frugoli

During Costello's tenure at the DPW he also clashed repeatedly with defendant James Frugoli, a member of Brigantine City Council. One such clash resulted from Costello's implementation of a city-wide clean up project. As part of this project a number of tickets were issued to Frugoli's constituents for violations of municipal bulk trash ordinances. On several occasions, Frugoli asked Costello to do away with the ticket, stating "I want you to straighten this out, I told the guy I would help him with his ticket." (Costello Dep. at 182:1-6, 181:14-23.) Costello refused to do so on three or four different occasions. On each occasion, Costello noted Frugoli's anger and frustration. Although Frugoli did not directly threaten his job over these tickets, Costello contends that the threat was implicit when Frugoli remarked "the dog don't wag the tail." [sic] (Id. at 190:1-12.)

Costello's second skirmish with Frugoli concerned improvement of a dirt road near a private condominium development called "Coquille Beach." Apparently, Coquille Beach was within Frugoli's district, and its residents came to him with their concerns. After Coquille Beach residents complained to Frugoli about flooding problems they had been experiencing, a meeting was held on the issue which was attended by Costello, Frugoli, the City Engineer Ed Stinson, Ciccarone, and the Trustees of Coquille Beach. (Id. at 247:22-23.) Shortly after the meeting, Frugoli contacted Costello and asked whether dirt from an on-going DPW street project could be taken to Coquille Beach and used to widen and raise a path along the beach behind the development. To the east of the path, closer to the ocean, there was an area containing tall grass and marshland. (Id. at 249:19-24.) It is unclear whether the path was city owned or privately owned by the Coquille Beach development. (Id. at 250:14-17.) Costello consulted with Doran and asked him about the possibility of raising the path, but Doran advised him that because the area was wetlands, it should not be filled without approval of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Doran also advised that even if the DEP were to approve a build-up of the Coquille Beach path, the dirt Frugoli had in mind was mixed with asphalt and shards of sewer pipe, and could not be placed on the beach. (Doran Dep. at 22:3-14, Pl. Ex. N.)

Costello contacted Frugoli to advise him of Doran's position, and to tell him he could not comply with Frugoli's request to build up the path behind Coquille Beach. Frugoli then directly contacted Doran, who repeated his position that DEP certification was required. Frugoli allegedly continued to demand of Costello that the DPW dirt be taken to Coquille Beach and placed on the path. Costello continued to refuse despite Frugoli's assurance that "nobody will know it." (Costello Dep. at 258:7-18.)

His requests to build up the Coquille Beach pathway having been denied, Frugoli tried to circumvent Mr. Costello. In July 1998, Costello saw the subject dirt being loaded into DPW trucks and learned that Frugoli had ordered Mr. Purdy to take the dirt to Coquille Beach. Costello told Purdy to unload the dirt and put the trucks back. Frugoli consequently came to see Costello, again to request that the dirt be moved. As Costello put it, "he was back in my office with a body language, glaring eyes, there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to suffer repercussions from not following his requests." (Costello Dep. at 384:7-12.)

D. The Manera Murder-Suicide

On July 22, 1998, a tragic murder/suicide occurred near Brigantine when Joe Manera, a longtime DPW employee, stalked, ambushed, and shot his wife at close range with a shotgun, and then turned the gun on himself. Plaintiffs allege that the Union defendants, Ciccarone, and Frugoli used this disturbing event as a means of turning public opinion against Costello and as a tool for aiding their plan to remove Costello from his position.

On the day of the shooting, Ciccarone met with Marrandino, Lakes, Parks and Doring, who told him that they were going to blame Costello for the Manera shooting. According to these defendants, Costello's discipline at the DPW had caused Manera to suffer a nervous breakdown that brought on the shooting. It is unclear from the record whether Ciccarone's post-Manera incident meeting with the Union defendants was already planned, or was in response to the shooting. (Ciccarone Dep. at 120:1-8.) Ciccarone called Costello that same day and told him to be prepared, because the "maniacs at Public Works" were going to blame him for what Manera had done. (Id. at 119:25-120:8.)

Ciccarone then set up what plaintiffs term a "so-called counseling session" to take place the next day. Defendants Lakes and Marrandino separately contacted defendant TV reporter Kara Silver the day before the session to tell her "there was more to the story," and that she should cover the meeting. (Silver Dep. 29:12-22, 30:3-6, Pl. Ex. O.)

The session convened in Brigantine City Hall on July 23, 1998 at 9:00 AM. Costello and the Wolf Pack defendants began to exchange heated words almost immediately. Defendants Lakes and Parks, in the presence of Ciccarone and other members of the DPW, verbally assailed Costello, repeatedly stating that he had caused the murder/suicide. Mr. Purdy, who was present at the session, testified that Parks said something to the effect of "[Costello] put the gun up to [Manera's] head." (Purdy Dep. at 141:14-15.) Costello responded in kind, stating to Parks and Lakes that "you're the one who forced [Manera] to do this, trying to turn him against me," (Tucker Dep. at 146:20-21), and "Joey Manera's blood is on their hands." (Purdy Dep. at 141:20-21.)

After the session ended, Ciccarone and Tucker, the Union Steward at the DPW, met in private. Tucker advised Ciccarone that defendant Joseph Yeoman, President of the Union, had authorized him to go on camera and make a statement to the press requesting that Costello resign. (Ciccarone Dep. at 114:15-16.)

Silver was present outside City Hall while the session took place. Following the session, Silver interviewed many employees of the DPW, including Marrandino, who stated that Costello's harassment of Manera had definitely "contributed heavily" to Manera's crime. (Pl. Mat. Facts ¶ 543.) TV 40 also aired Tucker's statement wherein he called for Costello's resignation. Silver stated during her broadcast that "many of Manera's co-workers say they can't presume what would make one take a life, but they say stress on the job was most likely a factor", and that "most of the workers believe years of harassment by their boss, Public Works Director proved too much for Manera to handle." Plaintiffs also claim that Lakes publicly stated, during the television interview, that "Joe [Manera] had talked to every council member, to the Mayor, begging them to please do something." (Pl. Mat Facts ¶ 591; Silver Dep. 86:20-25.)

E. Termination of Costello's Employment

On July 31, 1998 Ciccarone told Costello that he wanted him to resign or be fired. It remains a point of dispute whether Ciccarone asked for Costello's resignation because of Costello's management style, because of the public reaction to the Manera shooting, or because Ciccarone was acceding to the wishes of Frugoli and the Union defendants. Costello maintains that, in light of the recency of the Manera incident and the news reports that some workers blamed Costello, if he were fired immediately it would have confirmed to the public that he had somehow been responsible for the Manera incident. Knowing this, Costello asked Ciccarone for a week to think it over. Ciccarone consented, and during the following week, Costello met with Frugoli and others concerning the prospects of saving his job. (Pl. Mat Facts ¶ 634.) Frugoli, who had also met independently with the Union defendants, told plaintiff that if he refused to resign, things would get "real ugly". (Id. ¶ 639.) Plaintiffs contend that Frugoli also told Costello and others that every one at the DPW "hated Costello" because he was a tough person to work for, and that they all wanted Costello removed from his position. (Id.) During this week Costello continued to serve as Director, going to work each day, conducting inspections, and meeting with Mr. Purdy. (Id. ¶ 655.)

On August 7, 1998, Costello acceded to Ciccarone's demand and submitted a letter of resignation, after which he was asked to stop reporting to work. Despite assuring the Mayor that he would do so, Ciccarone never released a press statement making it clear that the City did not blame Costello for the Manera shootings. (Id. ¶¶ 661-62.) On November 4, 1998, plaintiffs filed a Notice of Tort Claim upon the Clerk of the City of Brigantine. In that notice, plaintiff identified the "Municipality and its employees who caused the claimed damages or injuries" as (a) the City of Brigantine and its agents, (b) Ciccarone, and (c) Frugoli. The notice listed plaintiff's date of termination as August 7, 1998, the day upon which plaintiff accepted Ciccarone's demand that he resign.

Plaintiffs have now sued the defendants for wrongful discharge, defamation, and infliction of emotional distress and other alleged wrongs. In its September 28, 2000 Opinion on defendants' respective motions to dismiss the plaintiffs' claims, the Court dismissed plaintiffs' Counts II and III (discharge in violation of public policy), but otherwise denied the motions. Defendants' present motions for summary judgment seek dismissal, for various reasons, of plaintiffs' remaining claims of (1) wrongful discharge in violation of the New Jersey Conscientious Employees Protection Act (CEPA) (Count I), (2) defamation (Counts IV-IX), (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress (Counts X & XI), (4) malicious interference with prospective economic advantage (Count XII), (5) abuse of process (Count XIII), and (6) violation of plaintiffs' civil rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count XIV).

Plaintiffs have cross-moved for summary judgment on two discrete issues, requesting that the Court find as a matter of law that (1) Costello satisfied the time requirements of the New Jersey Tort Claims Act or was not obligated to do so, and (2) Costello's delegation of job assignments at DPW did not constitute harassment. The plaintiffs also seek an Order barring admission of certain allegedly spoliated notes taken by Mr. D'Ambrosio.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment Standard

The standard for granting summary judgment is a stringent one. A court may grant summary judgment only when the materials of record "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In deciding whether there is a disputed issue of material fact the court must view the evidence in favor of the non-moving party by extending any reasonable favorable inference to that party. See Aman v. Cort Furniture Rental Corp., 85 F.3d 1074, 1080-81 (3d Cir. 1996); Kowalski v. L & F Prods., 82 F.3d 1283, 1288 (3d Cir. 1996); Meyer v. Riegel Prods. Corp., 720 F.2d 303, 307 n.2 (3d Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 465 U.S. 1091 (1984). The threshold inquiry is whether there are "any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986).

Supreme Court decisions mandate that: "[w]hen the nonmoving party bears the burden of persuasion at trial, the moving party may meet its burden on summary judgment by showing that the nonmoving party's evidence is insufficient to carry its burden of persuasion at trial." Brewer v. Quaker State Oil Refining Corp., 72 F.3d 326, 329-330 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1987)). However, "the nonmoving party creates a genuine issue of material fact if it provides sufficient evidence to allow a reasonable jury to find for him at trial." Brewer, 72 F.3d at 330 (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). Once the moving party has carried its burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, "its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Thus, if the non-movant's evidence is merely "colorable" or is "not significantly probative," the court may grant summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50.

B. Statute of Limitations Issues

The Court first addresses the parties' cross-motions on the issue of whether plaintiffs were required to comply with the 90-day statute of limitation within the New Jersey Tort Claims Act ("TCA"), N.J.S.A. 59:8-8. *fn2 In the September 28th Opinion in this case, the Court remarked in a footnote that the TCA applies to New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act ("CEPA") claims. At that point, the TCA/CEPA issue had not been fully briefed by the Costellos' attorney, and the Court declined to adopt plaintiffs' bald assertion (in a letter to the Court dated August 1, 2000) that TCA's statute of limitation does not apply to claims brought under the CEPA statute. (Sept. 28, 2000 Op. at 14 n.4.) Plaintiffs' counsel has now fully briefed this issue, and the Court finds good cause to reconsider, sua sponte, its earlier observation concerning the TCA's applicability to CEPA claims.The CEPA statute, enacted in 1986 and amended in 1994, provides in relevant part:

An employer shall not take any retaliatory action against an employee because the employee does any of the following:a. Discloses, or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or to a public body an activity, policy or practice of the employer . . . that the employee reasonably believes is in violation of a law, or a rule or regulation promulgated pursuant to law . . . ;

c. Objects to, or refuses to participate in any activity, policy or practice which the employee reasonably believes:(1) is in violation of a law, or a rule or regulation promulgated pursuant to law . . . ;(2) is fraudulent or criminal; or(3) is incompatible with a clear mandate of public policy concerning the public health, safety or welfare or protection of the environment. N.J.S.A. 34:19-3.

"Retaliatory action" includes discharge, suspension, demotion, or other adverse action involving an employees terms and conditions of employment. See id. 34:19-2(e).

New Jersey's Supreme Court has observed that CEPA was enacted "to protect employees from retaliatory actions by employers," Abbamont v. Piscataway Township Bd. of Educ., 138 N.J. 405 (1994), and that it should be liberally construed to effectuate the legislature's protective intent, see Young v. Schering Corp., 141 N.J. 16 (1995); Barratt v. Cushman & Wakefield, 144 N.J. 120 (1996). "Like the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("LAD"), CEPA `seeks to overcome the victimization of employees . . . in the workplace from the improper or unlawful exercise of authority by employers.'" Blackburn v. United Parcel Service, 179 F.3d 81, 91 (3d Cir. 1999) (quoting Abbamont, 138 N.J. at 431). Consistent with CEPA's remedial intent, "New Jersey's Courts have held that CEPA's protections should be construed broadly, and its exceptions and limitations read narrowly." Id.

The Supreme Court's decision in Abbamont, supra, is particularly instructive. In that case, the court held that the punitive damages prohibition within the TCA does not apply to CEPA claims brought against a public entity because TCA and CEPA involve different subject matter. Id. at 430. The Court found that "[t]he purpose of CEPA, like that of [the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination], is different from that of TCA." Id. at 431. Because CEPA is a civil rights statute designed to protect workers from unlawful intentional conduct, and the TCA is a statute designed to "provide compensation to tort victims without imposing excessive financial burdens on the taxpaying public," id. (quoting Fuchilla ...


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