JULIE A. CARDOSO, Plaintiff-Appellant,
SHORE ORTHOPEDIC GROUP and LANCE A. MARKBREITER, M.D., Defendants-Respondents.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued September 24, 2012
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Ocean County, Docket No. L-185-10.
Lynda Lee argued the cause for appellant (Lueddeke Law Firm, attorneys; Ms. Lee, on the brief).
Jennine DiSomma argued the cause for respondents (Saiber LLC, attorneys; Ms. DiSomma, of counsel; Ms. DiSomma and Christie R. Garvey, on the brief).
Before Judges Graves, Espinosa, and Guadagno.
Plaintiff Julie Cardoso (Cardoso) appeals from a November 4, 2011 order granting summary judgment in favor of defendants Shore Orthopedic Group (SOG) and Lance Markbreiter, M.D. (Markbreiter). In her complaint, Cardoso asserted claims of sexual harassment in violation of the Law Against Discrimination (LAD), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -42, and the torts of battery and invasion of privacy. After reviewing the record and applicable legal principles in light of the arguments advanced on appeal, we affirm.
On September 30, 2009, Cardoso had her first and only appointment with Markbreiter, a board certified orthopedic surgeon, at the SOG office in Lakewood, New Jersey, concerning pain she was experiencing in her lower back. In an attachment to her January 11, 2010 complaint, Cardoso stated she felt "belittled, humiliated, depressed, taken advantage of, and degraded as a woman" due to the conduct of Markbreiter, which she described as follows:
Upon walking into the patient room, while I was passing through the hallway, I saw Dr. Lance Markbreiter. Upon seeing me, he looked me up and down, from my toes to my face. At that moment I felt uncomfortable and didn't realize he was the doctor I was seeing until he came into the examination room.
I entered the room where I would be examined . . . [and waited] for the doctor who was going to examine me with regard to my lower lumbar spine disk herniation. [Markbreiter] came into the examination room alone with no medical assistant to perform the examination. . . . He then proceeded to touch me in the lower back area by my underwear line and asked me, why weren't my pant and underwear tags cut off? He said, "Isn't that the style?" That remark made me extremely uncomfortable and I felt as though he was not looking at the problem areas as he was paying more attention to my undergarments instead. . . .
[Markbreiter] proceeded to talk about the MRI and drew a diagram of a person on the examination table paper (as if it were me) and drew a detailed image, a body and the spine. He drew the figure as if she were pregnant, then he laughed and said, "That's not what you look like" and then changed the diagram. Then he told me "a MRI is like taking a picture of your face, which is beautiful, and then zooming in to see all your imperfections." I was flabbergasted by his remark. . . .
Then he suggested that I stop running. He told me that if I have any pain I should take an anti-inflammatory drug to help with the pain and there is no need for a follow-up visit. He said, "You are fine, nothing is wrong with you."
Additionally, as Cardoso was about to exit the examination room, she mentioned she fell a lot on her tailbone while snowboarding as a teenager, and asked, "[C]ould that have anything ...