The U.S. Supreme Court has already left its mark on 2015, but the New Jersey Supreme Court has issued several heavyweight opinions of its own, from allowing Gov. Chris Christie to cut more than $1 billion in pension funding to cementing potential new hurdles for discrimination and whistleblower plaintiffs.
Here, attorneys discuss the state Supreme Court and appellate decisions that will have a significant impact going forward.
State v. Saavedra
A 6-1 majority of the court made an attention-grabbing employment decision in June when it preserved criminal charges against former North Bergen Board of Education employee Ivonne Saavedra for allegedly taking confidential records for her discrimination and whistleblower lawsuit.
The justices shot down Saavedra’s argument that prosecutors improperly withheld evidence from the grand jury that she removed or copied 367 confidential student records to support claims under the state Law Against Discrimination and Conscientious Employee Protection Act. The court also refused to find that its 2010 decision in Quinlan v. Curtiss-Wright Corp., which spelled out when the taking of documents is protected under the LAD, shielded Saavedra.
The court sent a message by detailing the regular procedures that a plaintiff can use in litigation to obtain discovery, according to Adam Saravay of McCarter & English LLP.
“The court is saying that a plaintiff who doesn’t follow those procedures and instead engages in self-help is going to need to be able to justify why she has done that and why the established discovery procedures would have been insufficient,” Saravay said.