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Terry v. Guller

July 31, 2009

JEFFREY M. TERRY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MATTHEW E. GULLER, INDIVIDUALLY; AND THE INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Morris County, Docket No. L-1500-06.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued February 25, 2009

Before Judges Rodríguez, Waugh and Newman.

Jeffrey M. Terry appeals from the grant of summary judgment to Matthew E. Guller, J.D., Ph.D. (Guller), a psychologist, and the Institute of Forensic Psychology (Institute) (collectively "defendants"). We affirm.

This is the second matter before us arising out of an unfavorable psychological evaluation conducted by Guller. In the first action, Terry challenged the employment decision resulting from Guller's evaluation. In this action, he challenges Guller's qualifications.

Terry was employed as a communications officer at Morristown Police Department (Department), beginning in August 2002. In December 2004, Terry became provisionally eligible for employment as a police officer with the Department, which extended to Terry a conditional offer of employment, contingent on his passing a psychological evaluation.

The Department referred Terry to the Institute, where he was examined by Guller. At the time, Guller was not a fully-licensed psychologist, but was permitted to practice under the supervision of a fully-licensed psychologist, Dr. Leslie J. Williams, Ph.D.

Guller graduated from Rutgers School of Law-Camden in 1991. He passed both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey State Bar examinations that same year. Guller began working for the Institute in December 1994 as in-house counsel.

In 1994, Guller began a master's program in clinical psychology at William Paterson College. He ultimately received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Seton Hall in 2003. During this time, Guller continued working as in-house counsel for the Institute and additionally worked as a psychology intern at the Institute in connection with his education. During his three years as an unpaid intern, Guller performed psychological examinations and conducted research.

Upon receiving his Ph.D. in August 2003, Guller became a permitted psychologist at the Institute. This means that he did not hold a plenary license, but he was permitted to conduct psychological evaluations, as long as he was acting under the supervision of Leslie Williams, who was a licensed psychologist and the Institute's Director. Williams reviewed all of Guller's cases, files and reports, acted as a mentor, and signed off on all of Guller's reports. Guller became a licensed psychologist in New York in January 2006 and in New Jersey in May 2007.

At the time of Terry's examination on November 27, 2004, Guller was listed as a "permitted psychologist" on the Institute's website. Guller did not identify himself to the people he evaluated as a permitted psychologist. Because he did not consider himself to be providing psychological services to examinees, only to the Department, Guller did not require the examinees to sign any forms acknowledging his status as a permitted, rather than a licensed psychologist.

In his role as Guller's supervisor, Williams did not observe the people Guller interviewed, interview them himself, have any direct contact with them, or notify them in writing that he was supervising Guller. He did consult with and advise Guller on issues which came up in the course of Guller's work with examinees, and physically reviewed the file for every case Guller worked on. Williams additionally reviewed "in detail" any employment or public safety candidate rejections, which included reading test results, discussing cases with Guller, and reviewing reports generated on the case. He did not recall ever meeting Terry.

Prior to examining Terry, Guller was contacted by Department Chief Peter Demnitz, who provided Guller with background information on Terry. This was common practice with referrals from public safety entities. The letter from ...


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