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Gray v. City of Newark

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


June 18, 2008

WILFRED GRAY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
CITY OF NEWARK, DIRECTOR OF DHHS, CATHY CUOMO CECERE, PETER DILLON, MICHAEL WILSON, AND CHUEN CHOI ENG-FERRELL*FN1 . DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, L-6250-04.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued February 14, 2008

Before Judges Wefing, R. B. Coleman and Lyons.

Plaintiff Wilfred Gray appeals pro se from a March 31, 2006 order granting summary judgment in favor of his employer, the City of Newark, and certain named officials in Newark's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) where plaintiff was employed as a sanitary inspector. Plaintiff also appeals from orders denying three separate motions for reconsideration. Having considered the arguments advanced in support of plaintiff's appeal, we affirm.

On May 20, 2004, after a departmental hearing, Gray was formally terminated from his position as a sanitary inspector for the City of Newark for conduct unbecoming a public employee. Thereafter, Gray, assisted by counsel at the time, filed a nine-count complaint against the City claiming: discrimination in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -42; a hostile work environment; retaliation; violation of the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), N.J.S.A. 34:19-1 to -14; a Pierce claim*fn2 ; breach of contract; breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; malicious prosecution; intentional infliction of emotional distress; and civil conspiracy. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment which was heard on March 31, 2006.

Judge Donald W. Merkelbach granted defendants' motion and in a very well-reasoned opinion dated March 31, 2006, addressed each of Gray's claims. In addition, the judge determined, among other things, that plaintiff was terminated for legitimate, nondiscrimatory and non-pretexual reasons, including making unauthorized international long distance telephone calls to Jamaica, numerous instances of unprofessional interactions with members of the public and making or implying a threat directed at his supervisor following the imposition of a six-day suspension. Based upon our review of Judge Merkelbach's written opinion, and the arguments advanced by Gray on appeal, we perceive no need for this court to elaborate further on the issues analyzed in Judge Merkelbach's written opinion. We affirm substantially for the reasons articulated therein.

Additionally, we agree with the judges that subsequently entertained and denied Gray's motions for reconsideration, that Judge Merkelbach did not overlook any facts or controlling decisions that should have led to a reconsideration of his order granting summary judgment. See R. 1:7-4.

Affirmed.


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