UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
December 7, 2006
WILLIAM CONOVER, PLAINTIFF,
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge
This matter has come before the Court on Plaintiff's motion to amend his Complaint to add additional defendants and remand the action to state court. For the reasons expressed below, Plaintiff's motion will be denied.
Plaintiff, William Conover, filed a one-count Complaint in New Jersey Superior Court, Atlantic County, Law Division, against Defendant, United Parcel Service, claiming that UPS violated his rights under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act ("CEPA"), N.J. Stat. Ann. 34:19-1 et seq., when it terminated him for allegedly filing a false workers' compensation claim. UPS removed Conover's action to this Court on grounds of diversity of citizenship pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, and 1446.
Presently, Conover seeks to amend his Complaint to add as additional defendants three of his supervisors at UPS. He also seeks remand of his action if his motion to amend is granted because the addition of the new defendants, who are citizens of New Jersey, would destroy the diversity of the parties and no other basis for this Court's jurisdiction would exist. UPS opposes Conover's motion, arguing that his motion should be denied because Conover's proposed amendment is improperly motivated to defeat jurisdiction and Conover's proposed CEPA claims against the additional defendants are time-barred.*fn1
As an initial matter, UPS's conclusory statement that Conover's motivation to amend his Complaint is "solely and fraudulently" aimed to destroy diversity of citizenship is without any support.*fn2 Although the addition of these three proposed new defendants would defeat the diversity of citizenship of the parties, there is no evidence that Conover's desire to add these defendants is the "ploy" UPS claims. To the contrary, even though Conover's original Complaint does not name his three supervisors as defendants, they are named within the body of his original pleading and substantive allegations are asserted against them. Whatever Conover's reasons for not naming his supervisors as defendants in his original Complaint, these three proposed defendants are not gratuitous parties without any alleged personal involvement in Conover's claims. Therefore, even though one potential result of the amendment is the lack of diversity of the parties, and perhaps Conover considered that result, it cannot be found that Conover's motion to amend his pleading to add these defendants was motivated by fraud.
UPS's argument that Conover's motion to amend must be denied because his claims against them are time-barred does have merit, however. New Jersey's CEPA statute provides, in part, "Upon a violation of any of the provisions of this act, an aggrieved employee or former employee may, within one year, institute a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction." N.J. Stat. Ann. 34:19-5. A CEPA claim based on improper termination accrues on the date of discharge from employment. Alderiso v. Medical Center of Ocean County, Inc., 770 A.2d 275, 281 (N.J. 2001) ("In interpreting CEPA in accordance with its plain language, we are satisfied that the date of discharge represents the appropriate accrual date, not the date on which an employee receives notice of termination.").
Conover claims that he was terminated on January 21, 2005. Conover sought leave to amend his Complaint to add additional defendants to his CEPA claim on March 30, 2006. Because Conover did not seek to add the three additional defendants by January 21, 2006, any claims under CEPA against them are time-barred. As a result, the addition of the proposed three additional defendants would be futile.*fn3 Accordingly, Conover's motion to amend his pleading and remand the action must be denied. An appropriate Order will issue.
NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.