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King v. Cape May County Board of Freeholders

August 8, 2007

ANTOINETTE KING, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAPE MAY COUNTY BOARD OF FREEHOLDERS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Jerome B. Simandle

[relates to Docket Items 42 and 43]

OPINION

I. Introduction

This matter comes before the Court on motions pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 for partial summary judgment by Defendants Gary G. Schaffer [Docket Item 42] and by Defendants Cape May County Board of Freeholders and Cape May County Police Academy [Docket Item 43] (collectively "Defendants"). Defendants seek summary judgment on two issues. First, Defendants move for summary judgment in regards to Plaintiff Antoinette King's ("Plaintiff" or "King") gender discrimination claims. Second, Defendants move for the Court to determine whether Plaintiff's placement at the Cape May County Police Academy was proper under New Jersey law. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants summary judgment for Defendants as to Plaintiff's gender discrimination claims, but finds it unnecessary to determine whether Plaintiff's placement at the Academy was legal.

II. Background

A. Procedural History

On August 31, 2004, Plaintiff King filed the Complaint against Cape May County Board of Freeholders ("Freeholders"), Cape May County Police Academy ("Academy"), Gary G. Schaffer ("Schaffer"), and the Bridgeton Board of Education ("BOE"). [Docket Item 1.] Plaintiff alleged gender and age discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("LAD").

On February 23 and March 3 of 2006, Defendants moved for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims. [Docket Items 13, 16, 17.] The Court denied Schaffer's motion in its entirety, granted the Academy and Freeholders' motion as to Plaintiff's § 1983 claims but denied it as to Plaintiff's LAD claims, and granted BOE's motion in its entirety. See King v. Cape May County Bd of Freeholders, Civ. No. 04-4243, 2006 WL 2827736 (D.N.J. Sept. 29, 2006). On November 6, 2006, Defendant Schaffer filed a motion for reconsideration of the September 29 Opinion [Docket Item 29] on the grounds that the Court misconstrued evidence of gender discrimination. On January 31, 2007, the Court granted in part Schaffer's motion for reconsideration. See King v. Cape May County Bd of Freeholders, Civ. No. 04-4243, 2007 WL 419304 (D.N.J. Jan. 31, 2007). In the January 31 Opinion, this Court vacated its determination regarding the viability of Plaintiff's gender discrimination claims against Schaffer, holding that it improperly considered inadmissible hearsay in deciding the summary judgment motion on that issue, and further, that the gender discrimination claims against Schaffer were not properly before the Court on that motion for summary judgment, and thus should not have been considered at that time. Id. at *2. The January 31 Opinion did not grant summary judgment as to Plaintiff's gender discrimination claims, because no summary judgment motion was properly before the Court, but the Opinion allowed the parties to move again for summary judgment on the issue. Id. at *1.

Accordingly, Defendants Freeholders, the Academy, and Schaffer have moved for summary judgment on Plaintiff's gender discrimination claims. Defendants have also moved for the Court to determine whether Plaintiff was appropriately enrolled in the Academy, as the Court had said in its January 31 Opinion that this determination would affect the remedies Plaintiff could receive. See King, 2007 WL 419404 at *4 n.4.

B. Factual History

From around 1999 onwards, King was employed by the BOE as an educational enforcement officer (King Dep. at 5:23 to 6:2 in Def. BOF's Br. in Supp. of Mot. at Ex. B), and was stationed at Bridgeton Middle School (id. at 20:2 to 20:5). In May of 2003, while still employed by the BOE, Plaintiff was enrolled in the Special Law Enforcement Officer class at the Cape May County Police Academy under the sponsorship of (and a promised appointment with) the Bridgeton Police Department. (Stevens Dep. at 17:7 to 17:18 in Def. BOF's Br. in Supp. of Mot. at Ex. C.) King alleges that she was subject to age and gender discrimination while enrolled in the Academy. Because only Plaintiff's gender discrimination claims are before the Court in this summary judgment motion, only the facts relevant to those claims will be discussed.

Plaintiff's gender discrimination claims stem from her allegation that Defendants forced her out of the Cape May County Police Academy because she is a woman. Specifically, King alleges that Defendant Schaffer, who ran the officer training class she was enrolled in, asked her to leave because of her gender and age. Plaintiff also alleges that the other Defendants are derivatively liable for that decision because they ratified it. See King, 2006 WL 2827736 at *1-2.

In response to the present summary judgment motion, Plaintiff proffers only the following lines from her deposition as the evidence supporting her claims of gender discrimination:

"Q: And it's your testimony every time Mr. Schaffer spoke to you, he spoke to you in a manner which you ...


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