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Gautam v. New Jersey Dep't of Banking and Insurance

October 20, 2008


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Docket No. L-2988-06.

Per curiam.


Argued September 22, 2008

Before Judges Carchman and Sabatino.

Plaintiff Narinder Gautam appeals from the April 13, 2007 order of the Law Division granting summary judgment and dismissing his complaint, as well as a June 5, 2007 order denying his motion for reconsideration. We affirm.

We briefly set forth the relevant facts. Plaintiff, a long-time employee and principal statistician in the Office of Solvency Regulation in the Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI), filed a complaint against three other DOBI employees -defendant John Walton, assistant commissioner, defendant Dana Foraker, employee relations coordinator, and defendant Nancy Hritz, plaintiff's former immediate supervisor*fn2.

The first count of the complaint states:

1. Nancy H. Hritz, being the supervisor of Narinder Gautam since 1987 till 1989, rated the plaintiff's job performance as extremely poor without any basis after 10 years of satisfactory performance under prior supervisors. Nancy H. Hritz, also caused the plaintiff undergo psychiatric evaluations in 1988, 1989 and 1990 to undermine the subject's credibility and personal privacy and to have a professional judgment determination [of] fitness to perform the duties of the job. The plaintiff was suspended in early 1990 for poor performance with a psychiatrical [sic] stigma for life. Plaintiff asked [for] the copies of the aforementioned psychiatric evaluations reports without success and finally refused the said reports got lost. This is an unprofessional and irresponsible behavior on the part of Nancy H. Hritz which has hurt the plaintiff and has damaged his credibility and undermined his personal reputation.

The second count refers to an August 10, 2004 incident involving Hritz and then relates that, on November 9, 2004, Foraker and Walton directed plaintiff to undergo a psychiatric evaluation on that same date. Actually, the memo advising plaintiff of the psychiatric appointment was November 5, 2004, not November 9, as plaintiff alleges. The complaint then further alleges:

4. Plaintiff underwent [a] psychiatric evaluation to determine [t]he plaintiff's fitness to perform his job duties, for more then [sic] 2 hours and all the minute details of my family's [p]ersonal life and medical history of my son and my privacy was invaded by the [D]octor [C]hiappatta and reported to Dana [Foraker], employee coordinator at the New Jersey Department of Banking And Insurance. The Doctor [C]hiappatta advised the plaintiff to obtain the copy of the report from Dana [Foraker] who finally refused to provide the plaintiff the copy of the psychiatric evaluation [r]eport.

5. The plaintiff has been illegally deprived of his rights to have access to my own personal psychiatric report which [in] fact has been put on the web site of Government Record council without details. It has damaged my reputation beyond repair. The plaintiff has suffered significant psychiatrical [sic] impairment as a result of illegal actions of John [Walton] and Dana [Foraker], Nancy H. Hritz.

In his ad damnum clause, plaintiff states "WHEREFORE, plaintiff, Narinder Gautam, requests judgment [sic] against defendants for damages to his reputation and character and psychiatric stigmas given to plaintiffs [sic] son and family, costs, interest, and attorney fees." (Emphasis added).

Paragraph 2 of the second count refers to an incident occurring on August 10, 2004, in the cafeteria. The details of that incident are memorialized in a memorandum prepared by plaintiff:

Around 10 A.M., I go to pick up my coffee every day. Usually, I find, Lynda Klebold, Nancy Hritz, and Mike Molloy who are and have never been my friends rather my staunch enemies. I have not done anything against these individuals in my 28 years of service in this insurance department. Today, Lynda said 'we will get him in the mercer county college' to Nancy, who in turn, as I was getting back, gestured with eye contact with me, a hand motion of stabbing in the stomach area. Immediately after that in the common area of floor 2, I met Kathy Wood and told this incident. This is my every day life whenever these three individuals are together, which is the case all the time. I rarely see these individuals apart from one another based on my observations over 28 years of office life. I don't have many friends whom I can trust in this department, no body [sic] seems to trust me. I am concerned, if I go to mercer county college in the fall, I may get hurt directly or ...

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