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D'Aiuto v. City of Jersey City

August 8, 2007

ANTHONY P. D'AIUTO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF JERSEY CITY, CHIEF ROBERT TROY, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, CAPTAIN ROBERT TANIO, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION D/B/A AMTRAK, JOHN AND JANE DOES I-X, BEING FICTITIOUS PERSONS, AND JOHN AND JANE DOES XI-XX, BEING FICTITIOUS PERSONS, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Greenaway, Jr., D.J.

OPINION AND ORDER

This matter comes before this Court on Defendant National Railroad Passenger Corporation's ("Amtrak") motion to dismiss Plaintiff Anthony P. D'Aiuto's Complaint against Amtrak for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, Amtrak's motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, a former member of the Jersey City Police Department, and a former employee of Amtrak, initiated the instant action against Defendants City of Jersey City, Chief Robert Troy, Captain Robert Tanio, Amtrak, and various unnamed defendants, on December 5, 2006, in New Jersey Superior Court. Plaintiff's Complaint alleges the following causes of action: (1) negligence; (2) negligent misrepresentation; (3) intentional misrepresentation; (4) intentional/malicious interference with prospective economic advantage; (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (6) civil conspiracy to commit a tort; (7) defamation; (8) invasion of privacy; (9) negligent supervision & training; (10) violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (11) state constitutional tort; (12) breach of contract; (13) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and (14) promissory estoppel. On December 26, 2006, Amtrak removed the action to this Court.

On February 9, 2007, Amtrak moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against it for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and promissory estoppel. Amtrak specifically argues that Plaintiff's at-will employee status defeats these claims. Amtrak also argues that Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed because he has released Amtrak from any liability, specifically and in writing.

In his opposition, Plaintiff acquiesces to the dismissal of Count Fifteen and Count Sixteen of his Complaint - his breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing claims against Amtrak. Plaintiff then goes on to argue that Count Seventeen -- his promissory estoppel claim against Amtrak -- should survive Amtrak's motion to dismiss. Because Plaintiff has conceded that his claims for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing must be dismissed, this Court will only address Amtrak's arguments regarding Plaintiff's promissory estoppel claim.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges that he was employed by the City of Jersey City as a police officer until, on or about February 7, 2004, he retired in good standing from the Jersey City Police Department. (Compl., ¶ 8.) In or about August 2005, representatives of the Amtrak Department of Police and Security interviewed Plaintiff for a position as an Amtrak police captain. (Id., ¶ 9.) Plaintiff was hired as an Amtrak police captain in or about September 2005. (Id., ¶ 10.)

At the time he accepted his position with Amtrak, Plaintiff contends he had been working full-time as a security manager for Continental Management, a provider of Section 8 housing. (Id., ¶ 104.) Plaintiff alleges that, in reliance on Amtrak's offer of full-time employment as a police captain, Plaintiff terminated his full-time employment with Continental Management. (Id., ¶ 105.)

Shortly after Plaintiff was hired by, and had commenced his employment with, Amtrak, an investigator from Amtrak was assigned to complete a background investigation of Plaintiff. (Id., ¶ 12.) Plaintiff alleges that Robert Troy, the Chief of Police in Jersey City, improperly provided the Amtrak investigator with access to Plaintiff's internal affairs file. (Id.) Plaintiff contends he only authorized the release of his personnel file. (Id.)

Plaintiff's internal affairs file allegedly contained documents concerning investigations into Plaintiff's conduct and notices of disciplinary action pertaining to administrative charges which were never served on Plaintiff. (Id., ¶¶ 13-14.) According to Plaintiff, the internal affairs file did not include the required disposition forms regarding the documented investigations and administrative charges. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that his personnel file does not contain documents concerning notices of disciplinary action because no formal disciplinary action was taken in regard to those notices. (Id., ¶ 15.)

Upon discovering the content of Plaintiff's internal affairs file, Amtrak allegedly forced Plaintiff to resign on the ground that, when he applied for the Amtrak position, he did not disclose the notices of disciplinary action and internal affairs investigations found in his file. (Id., ¶ 16.) Since he left his position at Amtrak, Plaintiff has resumed work for Continental Management, but only on a 20-hour-per-week basis. (Id., ¶ 105.)

III. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard Governing Motions To Dismiss ...


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