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Stonehill v. Nesta

December 6, 2007

ROBERTA STONEHILL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
BRIAN NESTA, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AND INDIVIDUALLY, MICHAEL MASTRONARDY, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AND INDIVIDUALLY, AND DOVER TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT, N/K/A TOMS RIVER TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT,*FN1 DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Ocean County, Docket No. DC-9066-06.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued November 13, 2007

Before Judges Lintner and Graves.

Plaintiff Roberta Stonehill appeals from an order entered on November 2, 2006, dismissing her Special Civil Part complaint, which sought damages for defamation, for failure to state a claim pursuant to R. 4:6-2(e). The trial court found that an offensive statement by defendant, Sergeant Brian Nesta, a member of the Dover Township Police Department (DTPD), was not actionable because it was "an expression of pure opinion." We agree and affirm.

On appeal, plaintiff presents the following arguments:

POINT I

LIBEL, SLANDER AND SLANDER PER SE ARE ACTIONABLE, ARE NOT PROTECTED SPEECH UNDER THE CONSTITUTION, CANNOT BE EXPLAINED AWAY AS "OPINION" TO SHIELD AN OFFENDER, WHERE THE FALSE STATEMENTS ARE COMMUNICATED TO THIRD PERSONS TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE PLAINTIFF'S GOOD NAME AND REPUTATION, WHETHER OR NOT THERE ARE PECUNIARY DAMAGES.

POINT II

PLAINTIFF PROVIDED LEGALLY SUFFICIENT, ADEQUATE, PROPER NOTICE UNDER THE TORT CLAIMS ACT AS TO ALL DEFENDANTS.

POINT III

ONCE UNDERTAKEN, A PUBLIC EMPLOYEE HAS TO COMPLETE HIS MINISTERIAL DUTIES AND IF HE FAILS TO EXERCISE ORDINARY PRUDENCE IN THE EXERCISE AND COMPLETION THEREOF, HE COULD BE HELD LIABLE, AS IN THE CASE OF A PRIVATE PARTY AND THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT FOR AN ADDITIONAL TORT CLAIM NOTICE.

POINT IV

THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED PLAIN ERROR, PRODUCING AN UNJUST RESULT, SUBSTANTIALLY PREJUDICING THE PLAINTIFF, WHICH, IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE, THE ...


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