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K.N. v. Gloucester City Board of Education

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 27, 2019

K.N. and J.N., on behalf of J.N., Plaintiffs,
v.
GLOUCESTER CITY BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendant.

          CATHERINE MERINO REISMAN REISMAN CAROLLA GRAN & ZUBA LLP 19 CHESTNUT STREET HADDONFIELD, N.J. 08033-1810 Attorney for Plaintiffs K.N. and J.N, on behalf of J.N.

          BRETT E.J. GORMAN PARKER MCCAY PA 9000 MIDLANTIC DRIVE. LAUREL, N.J. 08054 Attorney for Defendant Gloucester City Board of Education.

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         This case concerns the appeal of a decision of an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) finding no violations of federal and state anti-discrimination laws. The Defendant school district provides services for an autistic child, J.N, through an after-school program (“ASP”). Presently before the Court are Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Certify an Issue for Interlocutory Appeal (the “Motion to Certify” and, collectively, the “Motions”). As described herein, the Court will deny Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration and deny Defendant's Motion to Certify.

         BACKGROUND

         This Court will rely upon the facts stated in its March 29, 2019 Opinion and will only restate those facts as necessary to the disposition of the Motions. Since this Court filed its March 29, 2019 Opinion and Order, Defendant filed its Motions for Reconsideration and to Certify an Issue for Interlocutory Appeal. The Motions have been fully briefed by the parties and are ripe for adjudication.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1367.

         B. Motion for Reconsideration Standard

         Local Rule 7.1(i) allows a party to file a motion with the Court requesting the Court to reconsider the “matter or controlling decisions which the party believes the Judge or Magistrate Judge has overlooked.” Under Local Rule 7.1(i), the moving party must demonstrate “‘the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice.'” Andreyko v. Sunrise Sr. Living, Inc., 993 F.Supp.2d 475, 478 (D.N.J. 2014) (citations omitted). In doing so, the moving party must show the “‘dispositive factual matter or controlling decisions of law'” it believes the court overlooked in its initial decision. Mitchell, 913 F.Supp.2d at 78 (citation omitted). A mere disagreement with the Court will not suffice to show that the Court overlooked relevant facts or controlling law. United States v. Compaction Sys. Corp., 88 F.Supp.2d 339, 345 (D.N.J. 1999).

         C. Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration

         Defendant moves for reconsideration of the Court's decision to grant summary judgment as to Plaintiff's New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”) claim. Defendant's argument is threefold. First, Defendant argues Plaintiffs were required to commence a proceeding before the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights (“NJDCR”) or file their NJLAD claim directly in New Jersey Superior Court. A failure to do so, according to Defendant, requires dismissal on procedural grounds. Second, Defendant argues that even if the NJLAD claim may remain before this Court, Defendant should be given an opportunity to engage in discovery and present the claim before a jury, assuming a genuine issue of material fact remains. Plaintiffs disagree on both points, arguing that it was proper to bring the NJLAD claim first in federal district court and that Defendant has affirmatively waived its right to a jury trial or further discovery in this case. Third, Defendant argues the differing burdens at the administrative and district court level require the Court to reconsider its decision.

         The Court will first address the question of whether administrative exhaustion before the NJDCR is required. Plaintiffs argue that “NJLAD complainants, in the ordinary course, are entitled to proceed directly to court without exhausting administrative remedies anywhere.” (Pls.' Opp'n Br. 4.) “[T]he NJLAD does not have an exhaustion of remedies requirement.” Weisberg v. Realogy Corp., No. 12-30 (JLL), 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38931, at *7 (D.N.J. Mar. 22, 2012). Defendant's argument admits this much, saying “[i]nstead of the above-discussed proceedings before the [N]DCR] . . . a complainant may file a complaint in the Superior Court of New ...


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