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Sally White v. Smiths Detection

June 6, 2011

SALLY WHITE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SMITHS DETECTION, INC., ET AL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chesler, District Judge

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court upon Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration [docket entry no. 69] of the Court's order dated April 18, 2011[docket entry no. 65]. Plaintiff also informally seeks leave to amend her complaint [docket entry no. 71].*fn1 Defendants Smiths Group plc, Smiths Detection, Inc., Brian Bark, Penny Boyko, Christopher Gane, and Stephen Phipson have opposed the motion [docket item no. 75]. The Court has considered the papers filed by the parties and chooses to rule on the motion based on the written submissions, and without oral argument, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies Plaintiff's motion.

I.BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed this workplace retaliation and gender discrimination action in this Court on August 9, 2010. Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. That motion was granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint; Defendants again moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint. Two of the three motions to dismiss were granted in their entirety, while one was granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiff filed the instant motion for reconsideration within the time provided by Local Civil Rule 7.1(i).

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

Local Civil Rule 7.1(i) creates a procedure by which a court may reconsider its decision upon a showing that dispositive factual matters or controlling decisions of law were overlooked by the court in reaching its prior decision. See Bryan v. Shah, 351 F.Supp.2d 295, 297 (D.N.J. 2005); Bowers v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Assoc., 130 F.Supp.2d 610, 612 (D.N.J. 2001). Rule 7.1(i) does not contemplate a recapitulation of arguments considered by the court before rendering its decision. See Bermingham v. Sony Corp. of Am., Inc., 820 F.Supp. 834, 856 (D.N.J. 1992), aff'd, 37 F.3d 1485 (3d Cir. 1994); Carteret Sav. Bank, F.A. v. Shushan, 721 F.Supp. 705, 709 (D.N.J. 1989). Our jurisprudence directs that a motion under Rule 7.1(i) may be granted only if: (1) "an intervening change in the controlling law has occurred; (2) evidence not previously available has become available; or (3) it is necessary to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice." Database Am., Inc. v. Bellsouth Advert. & Publ'g Corp., 825 F.Supp. 1216, 1220 (D.N.J. 1993); North River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir 1995). Plaintiff has failed to satisfy any of the three grounds upon which a motion for reconsideration may be granted.

B. Breach of Contract

On her motion Plaintiff places much emphasis on a New Jersey appellate court decision already cited in her original papers. Kass v. Brown Boveri Corp., 199 N.J. Super. 42 (App. Div. 1985). With regard to issues of state law, such as breach of contract, where there is no clear precedent, this Court is required to predict what the state's highest court would hold. Covington v. Cont'l Gen. Tire, Inc., 381 F.3d 216, 218 (3d Cir. 2004). An examination of Kass shows that the New Jersey Supreme Court did in fact decide the issue of what effect a resignation had on an employment contract, albeit in 1891. Kass, 199 N.J. Super. at 247 (citing Wharton v. Christie, 53 N.J.L. 607 (E. & A. 1891)). The case Ms. White relies on demonstrates that the Wharton case has never been overruled. While a state intermediate appellate court has concluded that Wharton is no longer valid law, that does not mean that a federal court sitting in diversity can make that leap, particularly because it is not bound by the intermediate court. See, e.g., City of Philadelphia v. Lead Indus. Ass'n Inc., 994 F.2d 112, 123 (3d Cir. 1993) (decisions of state intermediate appellate courts are not dispositive for federal courts sitting in diversity).

Nonetheless, even assuming Ms. White did establish a constructive discharge*fn2 she has still utterly failed to establish that she has any damages. Under New Jersey law a breach of contract claim requires proof of three elements: "a valid contract, defective performance by the defendant, and resulting damages." Coyle v. Englander's, 199 N.J. Super. 212, 223 (App. Div. 1985). As this Court stated in no uncertain terms in its April 15, 2011 Opinion: "[e]ven assuming arguendo that the new position constituted a constructive discharge, Ms. White did not experience any damages. Not only did she receive compensation and benefits for six months, she also received an offer to return to her old position, which she refused." (Op. at 6).

As to Plaintiff's arguments concerning breach of implied contract, the Court is satisfied that the language in the Code cannot trump the explicit terms of her individual employment contract. See, e.g. Sons of Thunder, Inc. v. Borden, Inc., 148 N.J. 396, 419 (1997) (implied term "cannot override an express termination clause"). Ms. Whites's contract states "[e]ither the Company or you may terminate your appointment by giving the other six months' prior written notice." [docket entry no. 34-1, p. 5]. Accordingly, consistent with its earlier Opinion, this Court finds that there is no cause of action for breach of contract, express or implied.

C. New Jersey Law Against ...


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