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Hailey v. City of Camden

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 16, 2015

KEVIN HAILEY, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CAMDEN, Defendant.

Thomas Bruno, II, Esq., ABRAMSON & DENENBERG, P.C., Philadelphia, PA, Attorney for Plaintiff

John C. Eastlack, Jr., Esq., Wesley L. Fenza, Esq., WEIR & PARTNERS LLP, Cherry Hill, NJ, Attorney for Defendant.

OPINION

JEROME B. SIMANDLE, Chief District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant City of Camden's (hereinafter, "Defendant") motion to dismiss Plaintiff Kevin Hailey's (hereinafter, "Plaintiff") Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). [See Docket Item 21.]

On September 30, 2014, the Court addressed the viability of the breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims asserted by Plaintiff in his initial Complaint, and considered, in particular, whether Plaintiff's initial Complaint contravened the Settlement Agreement and Release executed by the parties on November 4, 2009 (hereinafter, the "settlement agreement" or "agreement"). See Hailey v. City of Camden, No. 14-1018, 2014 WL 4854527 (D.N.J. Sept. 30, 2014). As relevant here, the Court noted that the Settlement Agreement preserved Plaintiff's ability to challenge the State of New Jersey's calculation of an "appropriate retirement benefit'" and/or to "claim[] entitlement to a[] different calculation of accrued sick, vacation, personal or other compensatory/other accrued time'" (hereinafter, the "calculation exception"). Id. at *7 (citation omitted). Because the claims of the initial Complaint, however, failed to challenge "any specific benefit calculation" or to "state an entitlement to any divergent calculation method, " the Court found that the claims compelled "only the conclusion" that Plaintiff sought relief "extinguished by the parties' settlement agreement." Id . Nevertheless, because it remained conceivable that Plaintiff could assert plausible claims under the calculation exception, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint without prejudice, and with leave to file an Amended Complaint consistent with the Court's decision. Id. at *8.

In his two-count Amended Complaint, Plaintiff, formerly a Deputy Chief in Camden's Fire Department, again asserts claims for breach of contract and unjust enrichment as a result of Defendant's "miscalculation" of Plaintiff's accrued sick, vacation, personal, or other compensatory/accrued time. (See Am. Compl.) Defendant, however, argues that Plaintiff's claims, as amended, still fall squarely within the category of claims released by the settlement agreement, and must be dismissed. (See generally Def.'s Br; Def.'s Reply.)

The principal issue before the Court is whether Plaintiff's Amended Complaint states viable claims under the calculation exception of the settlement agreement.

For the reasons explained below, Defendant's motion to dismiss will be denied.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual and Procedural Background[1]

For purposes of the pending motion, the Court need not retrace every facet of the parties' lengthy history.[2]

Rather, the Court notes that, from April 2002 up until his retirement in June 2010, Defendant employed Plaintiff as Deputy Fire Chief. (See Am. Compl. at ¶ 5.) On November 1, 2000, then-acting Fire Chief Joseph A. Martini issued a memo requiring that the deputy chiefs share an annual duty schedule for management coverage after normal business hours, including nights, weekends, and holidays (hereinafter, "duty coverage"). (Id. at ¶ 8.) The duty coverage policy provided that, in exchange for this annual service, chiefs and deputy chiefs would be entitled to 20 days, or 160 hours, of comp time. (Id. at ¶ 9.)

In reliance upon the duty coverage policy, Plaintiff "received yearly timesheets and audited time memos, " that reflected "an accrual of 20 days of comp time per year." (Id. at ¶¶ 13-14.) In March 2009, however, Defendant "unilaterally rescinded" the duty coverage policy. (Id. at ¶ 17.) Despite this rescission, Plaintiff nevertheless alleges that he continued to provide ...


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