STEVEN PALAMARA v. TOWNSHIP OF IRVINGTON, et al.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE
APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY
DOCKET NO. A-5408-05T35408-05T3
TOWNSHIP OF IRVINGTON; DAVID LYONS,
individually and in his capacity as
a member of the Town Council; TOWN
COUNCIL OF THE TOWNSHIP OF IRVINGTON;
NORTH WARD RECORD; THE COMMITTEE TO
RE-ELECT DAVID LYONS; SARA BOST; and
Submitted February 13, 2008 - Decided
Before Judges Coburn, Fuentes and Grall.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey,
Law Division, Essex County, L-9739-00.
Patrick P. Toscano, Jr., attorney for
Eric M. Bernstein & Associates, LLC, attorneys for
respondents (Eric M. Bernstein, of counsel; Mr. Bernstein and Philip G. George, on the brief).
Plaintiff, Steven Palamara, filed a complaint in the Law Division asserting numerous causes of action. The defendants obtained summary judgment, and Palamara appeals, arguing that the judge erred by: (1) relying on the doctrine of res judicata; (2) dismissing the defamation claim against defendant David Lyons; (3) dismissing the claim that defendants created a hostile work environment "based on the defamatory statements;" and (4) failing to find that Palamara had suffered the requisite emotional distress required for a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress.
After carefully considering the record and briefs, we are satisfied that all of Palamara's arguments are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion.
R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). Nonetheless, we add the following comments.
This case arose as a result of Palamara's demotion from Chief of Police to Deputy Chief of Police in Irvington. After he was demoted for insubordination, Palamara appealed, and the case was tried before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), who ruled in favor of Irvington. The Merit System Board adopted the ALJ's findings of fact and conclusions of law. Palamara appealed, and we affirmed. Steven Palamara v. Twp. of Irvington, No. A-6877-02T1 (App. Div. March 30, 2005).
While the administrative proceedings were pending, Palamara filed the instant action in the Law Division. In a written decision filed on October 17, 2005, Judge Simonelli granted summary judgment on the defamation claims. We affirm on this point substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Simonelli in that written decision, which concluded that Palamara, admittedly a public figure, had failed to prove the elements of defamation and had further failed to provide evidence of actual malice.
Palamara's claim that defendants created a hostile work environment was properly rejected because, among other things, Palamara failed to provide any evidence indicating that defendants' conduct was severe or pervasive enough to make a reasonable person believe that the employment conditions had become hostile or abusive. Shepherd v. Hunterdon Developmental Center, 174 N.J. 1, 24 (2002).
Palamara's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress was properly dismissed because, among other things, he failed to prove physical injury resulting from the emotional distress he says he experienced. Ayers v. Township of Jackson, 106 N.J. 557, 577 (1987); Collins v. Union County Jail, 150 N.J. 407, 412-17 (1997); J.H. v. Mercer County Youth Detention Ctr., 396 N.J. Super. 1, 21-22 (App. Div. 2007).
February 28, 2008