On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Somerset County, Docket No. L-852-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 16, 2011
Before Judges Fuentes, Harris, and Koblitz.
Plaintiffs J.C., Z.T., and V.T. comprise a family that alleges its members suffered racial discrimination, retaliation, harassment, and bullying while V.T. was in high school. Their claims initially arose during V.T.'s sophomore year when her school failed to nominate her for several commendations and school administrators refused to act on the family's unrelenting inquiries and persistent complaints. Although V.T. ultimately received many academic honors and matriculated at an eminent university in New Jersey, the family asserts that she suffered humiliation and emotional distress due to the actions and omissions of school and State officials. Accordingly, V.T.'s parents filed a complaint (and more than a few amended complaints) against the Bernards Township Board of Education and many of its employees, and the New Jersey Department of Education and several of its employees.
The litigation was resolved through a series of dispositive orders of Judge Fred H. Kumpf. On appeal, plaintiffs argue the following:
POINT I: TRIAL COURT ERRED IN LAW AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN FAILING TO ADHERE TO THE LEGAL STANDARD FOR MSJ.
A. TRIAL COURT'S DECISION WAS BASED ON DEFENDANTS' CONTENTIONS INSTEAD OF EVIDENCE, WITHOUT FINDING UNDISPUTED FACTS.
B. TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO VERIFY DEFENDANTS' UNSUPPORTED AND FALSE FACTUAL CONTENTIONS.
C. TRIAL COURT ERRED IN LAW AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN FAILING TO CONSIDER DEFENDANTS' ADMISSIONS OF ALMOST ALL MATERIAL FACTS SUPPORTING PLAINTIFFS' CLAIMS.
D. TRIAL COURT ERRED IN LAW AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN FAILING TO APPRECIATE THAT DIRECT EVIDENCE OF RETALIATORY ANIMUS SUFFICIENTLY PRECLUDES MSJ.
E. TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THAT ESTABLISHMENT OF PRIMA FACIE CASE SUFFICIENTLY PRECLUDES MSJ.
POINT II: TRIAL COURT ERRED IN LAW IN FAILURE TO ADHERE TO THE LEGAL STANDARD IN DECIDING DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION CLAIMS.
A. TRIAL COURT FAILED TO APPRECIATE THAT DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS MAY BE INFERRED.
B. TRIAL COURT FAILED TO REQUIRE DEFENDANTS TO FULFILL THEIR BURDEN OF PROOF THAT THEY WOULD MAKE THE SAME DECISION REGARDING ALL ALLEGED ADVERSE ACTIONS ABSENT DISCRIMINATORY AND RETALIATORY MOTIVE.
POINT III: TRIAL COURT COMMITTED LEGAL, PROCEDURAL, AND DUE PROCESS ERRORS IN GRANTING BTSD DEFENDANTS' OCT-6-09 MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF ITS DECISION IN MSJ.
A. TRIAL COURT ERRED IN LAW AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN FAILURE TO ADHERE TO THE LEGAL STANDARD FOR MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION.
B. TRIAL COURT ERRED IN LAW AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN FAILURE TO ADHERE TO THE LEGAL STANDARD FOR MSJ.
C. TRIAL COURT COMMITTED PROCEDURAL ERRORS IN CONSIDERING BTSD DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND IN DENYING ...