NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued October 7, 2013.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Gloucester County, Docket No. L-167-07.
Gerard W. Quinn argued the cause for appellant (Cooper, Levenson, April, Niedelman & Wagenheim, P.A., attorneys; Mr. Quinn, on the brief).
Sebastian B. Ionno argued the cause for respondent (Van Syoc & Weintraub, attorneys; Mr. Ionno and D. Rebecca Higbee, on the brief).
Before Judges Harris and Guadagno.
This is a civil rights action in which plaintiff Benedetto Mora seeks remedies against defendant Pleasantville Board of Education (the Board) for "reverse race discrimination and arbitrary and capricious hiring practices." By leave granted, the Board appeals from the February 13, 2013 order holding that "[t]he [p]leadings of [d]efendant Pleasantville Board of Education, are hereby stricken and suppressed with prejudice." We reverse.
The facts of the underlying reverse discrimination action —— which we need not recount —— are largely collateral to the rather pedestrian procedural journey reflected in the record. The complaint was filed on January 27, 2007. After the Board answered in late February 2007, the parties exchanged discovery requests.
In November 2007, when the Board's discovery responses were overdue, Mora filed a motion to strike its answer without prejudice. The motion was withdrawn when the Board provided responses, although Mora contends that significant discovery delinquencies remained. The record reveals that, for at least the next four years, Mora took no further formal action to correct those putative deficiencies notwithstanding the parties' continued engagement in discovery, most notably, depositions.
On November 21, 2008, Mora's attorney served a "Supplemental Request for Production of Documents" on counsel for the Board. R. 4:18-1. The items included in the supplemental request were the following:
Any and all Regular Session and Executive Session Minutes regarding the Pleasantville School Board from January 2006-present. Including but not limited to all writings, notes and audio tapes.
The Board did not produce the requested items during the discovery period. Additionally, it neither sought a protective order pursuant to Rule 4:10-3 nor complied with Rule 4:18-1(b)(4) (requiring an objection to be made on specific grounds, and if privilege is claimed, to invoke the process required by Rule 4:10-2(e)). Again, Mora never sought to compel the production of these ...