(NOTE: The status of this decision is Published.)
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE
APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY
DOCKET NO. A-3072-17T3
APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION
March 27, 2019
HOLDINGS, INC., d/b/a
FEENEY FUNERAL HOME,
LLC, DAVID B. FEENEY,
and GINNY SANZO,
Submitted February 26, 2019 – Decided March 27, 2019
Before Judges Fisher, Hoffman and Suter.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law
Division, Bergen County, Docket No. L-0687-17.
The Mark Law Firm, LLC, attorneys for appellant
(Jamison M. Mark, on the brief).
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC,
attorneys for respondents (Steven J. Luckner and
Michael J. Riccobono, on the brief).
Zuckerman & Fisher, LLC, attorneys for amicus curiae
National Employment Lawyers Association of New
Jersey (Elizabeth Zuckerman, on the brief).
The opinion of the court was delivered by
Plaintiff appeals the dismissal, pursuant to Rule 4:6-2, of his action
against his former employer, defendant Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc.
(Carriage), and others, based on, among other things, the Law Against
Discrimination (LAD), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -49. Plaintiff claims defendants'
unlawful discrimination arose from his use of medical marijuana, permitted by
the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, N.J.S.A. 24:6I-1 to
-16, as part of his cancer treatment. Critical to the issues presented, the
Legislature's declaration that an authorized medical-marijuana user may not be
criminally prosecuted included a declaration that "nothing" in the
Compassionate Use Act "require[s]" an employer to accommodate a medical
marijuana user, N.J.S.A. 24:6I-14. Based on that provision, defendants argued
– and the motion judge held – that plaintiff's LAD action could not go forward.
We disagree and hold that because the Compassionate Use Act declared it should
not be construed to "require" an accommodation does not mean such a
requirement might not be imposed by other legislation. N.J.S.A. 24:6I-14. In
short, like the first law of thermodynamics, that provision – beyond its own
limited criminal and regulatory context – neither creates nor destroys rights and
obligations. So, we reject the essential holding that brings this matter here and
conclude that the Compassionate Use Act's refusal to require an employment
accommodation for a user does not mean that the Compassionate Use Act has
immunized employers from obligations already imposed elsewhere. It would be
ironic indeed if the Compassionate Use Act limited the Law Against
Discrimination to permit an employer's termination of a cancer patient's
employment by discriminating without compassion. We reverse.
Before we discuss that central issue, we briefly outline the procedural
events that brought us here. Plaintiff, a funeral director, originally sued only
Carriage and unknown Carriage employees alleging various LAD violations and
common-law defamation. Carriage removed the matter to federal court and
moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief might be granted.
In response, plaintiff cross-moved to amend his complaint to allege other LAD
violations, to add common-law claims of intentional interference with
prospective economic gain (intentional interference), and to join three Carriage
employees as defendants. The federal judge allowed plaintiff to expand his
previously-pleaded defamation claim and to assert the intentional interference
claim against two of the prospective defendants – David Feeney and Ginny
Sanzo – but denied the cross-motion to assert an intentional interference claim
and an aiding and abetting claim against Norma Van Zile. Plaintiff then filed,
as permitted, an amended complaint that added Feeney and Sanzo. Recognizing
that the joinder of these defendants destroyed diversity, the federal judge
remanded the action.
Once back in the Law Division, plaintiff filed a second amended
complaint containing the following claims:
LAD disability discrimination against Carriage;
LAD disability discrimination and failure to
accommodate against Carriage;
LAD perceived disability discrimination and
failure to accommodate against Carriage;
LAD perceived disability discrimination against
LAD aiding and abetting against Feeney and
defamation against Feeney and Sanzo;
intentional interference against Carriage, Feeney
Defendants swiftly moved under Rule 4:6-2(e) to dismiss the second amended
For reasons expressed in a written opinion, the judge granted defendants'
motion and dismissed the second amended complaint without prejudice. The
parties then sought clarification, and the judge entered an order that dismissed
the LAD claims with prejudice and the defamation and intentional interference
claims without prejudice.
Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal,1 and now argues, among other things,
that the judge erred: in dismissing the LAD claims by holding the
Compassionate Use Act does not foreclose an employer's right to terminate an
employee for medical marijuana use; in dismissing the aiding and abetting
claims because he found there was no LAD actionable claim that could be
Because the judge dismissed the defamation and intentional interference
claims without prejudice, we recognize that – despite what plaintiff claims –
finality was not achieved in the trial court and plaintiff was mistaken when he
filed a notice of appeal rather than a motion for leave to appeal. See Grow Co.
v. Chokshi, 403 N.J. Super. 443, 460 (App. Div. 2008). By the time the court
came to this realization, however, the matter had been fully briefed and was
placed on a plenary calendar for disposition. We also note that we do not face
an artifice for creating appellate jurisdiction; instead, the parties sought
clarification from the trial judge to ascertain whether he had intended to fully
dispose of all issues despite the "without prejudice" designation. In these
circumstances and in the interests of justice, we have determined to consider the
merits of this appeal despite its prematurity. Gen. Motors Corp. v. City of
Linden, 279 N.J. Super. 449, 455-56 (App. Div. 1995), rev'd on other grounds,
143 N.J. 336 (1996).
asserted against Carriage; and in determining that plaintiff failed to sufficiently
plead his defamation and intentional interference claims.
We next consider the collection of plaintiff's LAD claims and their
relationship to the Compassionate Use Act, and thereafter, address the dismissal
of the defamation and intentional interference claims.
In reviewing a dismissal for failing to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted, we apply the same standard that bound the trial judge and, therefore,
"search the complaint in depth and with liberality to ascertain whether the
fundament of a cause of action may be gleaned even from an obscure statement
of claim, [giving] opportunity . . . to amend if necessary." Printing Mart-
Morristown v. Sharp Elecs. Corp., 116 N.J. 739, 746 (1989) (quoting Di
Cristofaro v. Laurel Grove Mem'l Park, 43 N.J. Super. 244, 252 (App. Div.
1957)); see also Major v. Maguire, 224 N.J. 1, 26 (2016). At such a stage, courts
are unconcerned with the plaintiff's ability to prove what is alleged, and instead
consider only whether – after giving plaintiff the benefit of "every reasonable
inference of fact," Printing Mart, 116 N.J. at 746 – a sustainable claim has been
pleaded. This examination is "painstaking and undertaken with a generous and
hospitable approach." Ibid.
We thus examine the judge's dismissal of the LAD claims by assuming
the truth of the following factual allegations and by drawing reasonable
inferences that suggest a cause of action.
Plaintiff filed a detailed second amended complaint, which contains
numerous specific allegations and recounts statements made by some of the
parties during the relevant events.
Plaintiff alleged that, in 2013, he began working for Carriage as a licensed
funeral director. The job required, among other things, that plaintiff direct
funerals, engage in visitations, perform embalming, "cosmetize" the deceased,
prepare death certifications, conduct religious services at gravesites, and drive
the funeral home's hearse and other vehicles.
In 2015, plaintiff was diagnosed with cancer. As part of his treatment, his
physician prescribed marijuana as permitted by the Compassionate Use Act.
In May 2016, while working a funeral, a vehicle plaintiff was driving was
struck by a vehicle that ran a stop sign. Sustaining injuries, plaintiff was taken
by ambulance to a hospital emergency room.
At the hospital, plaintiff advised a treating physician that he had a license
to possess medical marijuana. The physician responded that "it was clear
[plaintiff] was not under the influence of marijuana, and therefore no blood tests
were required." 2 After being examined, plaintiff was given pain medication and
sent home. Once home, plaintiff took his prescribed pain medication and used
While plaintiff rested, his father took plaintiff's medical prescription and
licenses to Carriage and advised Feeney "that the emergency room doctor had
refused to perform a blood test on [plaintiff] because 'he would not be liable for
forcing a blood test,' and knowing that [plaintiff] had a legal prescription and
was permitted to use marijuana, 'of course it will be in his system.'" Plaintiff's
father also told Feeney that "the doctor stated he did not feel that [plaintiff] was
under the influence of any alcohol or drugs when he was brought in to the
hospital, and there was no need for a drug test."
Later that day, Feeney called and spoke to plaintiff's father to advise that
a blood test was required before plaintiff could return to work. His father
protested that "[plaintiff] was not under the influence at the time of [the]
These and other statements recited throughout this section of the opinion are
taken verbatim from the second amended complaint.
accident," that "the hospital determined he was not under the influence," and
that "the [hospital] doctor . . . would not participate in any type of blood testing
because [plaintiff's] drug test would test positive because the marijuana stays in
one's system for 45 days." Feeney said plaintiff would still have to go for the
At about 6:15 p.m. that evening, plaintiff appeared for a blood test at an
urgent care facility. There, the physician opined that "testing [plaintiff] was
illegal, and he warned that the results would be positive due to the marijuana
and the prescription pain killers taken after the accident." In lieu of blood
testing, the physician had plaintiff take a urine and breathalyzer test. Plaintiff
was never given the results of those tests, and the results are not in the record.
The next day, plaintiff returned to the funeral home, not as an employee,
but because a close friend's family member died. While there, he and Feeney
spoke briefly about his job status. Feeney stated that he had not heard anything
from corporate and advised that he "d[id]n't know what Carriage was going to
do or what they'll say," although he "th[ought] everything should be fine"
because plaintiff had "a legal prescription." In short, Feeney said, "he d[id]n't
see a problem with it," so "you should be fine."
Plaintiff alleged that Feeney also asked him: "how do you use it?"
Plaintiff replied, "[w]hen you go home, you have a drink or a cocktail. I eat it,
or that is how the doctors tell me to take it, or you can smoke it." Plaintiff told
Feeney, "I only take it when I am home, not at work because I don't want to
jeopardize my license for what I have worked so hard for." And he told Feeney
that without this medication, he would have severe pain throughout the day.
Feeney told plaintiff to "[g]o home, and get better," and that he would be on the
calendar for a funeral the following week. He also told plaintiff he would have
another director assist him.
As planned, plaintiff worked a funeral the following week for
approximately four hours. After, he told Feeney he was very sore and was going
to go home to rest. He thanked Feeney for bringing in another director to assist.
Several days later, Feeney told plaintiff that "corporate" was unable to
"handle" his marijuana use and that his employment was "being terminated
because they found drugs in your system." Feeney also said he called Sanzo to
tell her plaintiff had been terminated because of "drugs."
In a June 3, 2016 letter, "corporate" advised plaintiff he had been
terminated not because of his drug use, but because he failed to discl ose his use
of medication, which might adversely affect his ability to perform his job duties.
According to a Carriage policy, "employees must advise their immediate
supervisor if they are taking any medication that may adversely affect their
ability to perform assigned duties safely."
A couple of months after the termination of his employment, plaintiff's
mother received a telephone call from someone who worked for another funeral
home who said she heard plaintiff was fired because he was "a drug addict."
When plaintiff's mother inquired further, this individual reported that she called
plaintiff's former place of employment, was told plaintiff was fired for being a
drug addict, and was told this rumor made the rounds at the Bergen County
Funeral Directors' Association meeting.
Based on these allegations, plaintiff claimed Carriage could not lawfully
terminate his employment without violating the LAD, despite the results of his
drug test, because he had a disability (cancer) and was legally treating that
disability, in accordance with his physician's directions and in conformity with
the Compassionate Use Act. In granting defendants' motion to dismiss, the trial
judge determined that the Compassionate Use Act "does not contain
employment-related protections for licensed users of medical marijuana" and, in
accepting plaintiff's own allegations, the adverse employment action was taken
due to a positive drug test and a violation of Carriage's drug use policy.
In 2010, our Legislature recognized that "[m]odern medical research has
discovered a beneficial use for marijuana in treating or alleviating the pain or
other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions,"
N.J.S.A. 24:6I-2(a), and so it enacted the Compassionate Use Act to
decriminalize the use of medical marijuana. The Legislature clearly stated its
to protect from arrest, prosecution, property forfeiture,
and criminal and other penalties, those patients who use
marijuana to alleviate suffering from debilitating
medical conditions, as well as their physicians, primary
caregivers, and those who are authorized to produce
marijuana for medical purposes.
Consistent with these purposes, the Compassionate Use Act affords an
affirmative defense to patients who are properly registered but are subsequently
arrested and charged with marijuana possession. N.J.S.A. 2C:35-18. It also
shields qualifying users from civil penalties and other administrative actions.
N.J.S.A. 24:6I-6(b). But the Compassionate Use Act expressly says "[n]othing"
that would "require . . . an employer to accommodate the medical use of
marijuana in any workplace." N.J.S.A. 24:6I-14.
On the other hand, plaintiff alleges a disability that qualified his use of
medical marijuana. And the LAD makes it unlawful "[f]or an employer, because
of the . . . disability . . . of any individual, . . . to discharge . . . or to discriminate
against such individual . . . in terms, conditions or privileges of employment,"
N.J.S.A. 10:5-12(a), "unless the nature and extent of the disability reasonably
precludes the performance of the particular employment," N.J.S.A. 10:5-4.1; see
also N.J.S.A. 10:5-2.1.
In considering the relationship between the Compassionate Use Act and
the LAD, we start by rejecting plaintiff's argument that these enactments are in
conflict. We reject that assertion because the Legislature plainly said there was
no conflict; the Legislature's actual words bear repeating: "Nothing in this act
shall be construed to require . . . an employer to accommodate the medical use
of marijuana in any workplace." N.J.S.A. 24:6I-14. These words are
unambiguous; they require no interpretation and permit no deviation. See
DiProspero v. Penn, 183 N.J. 477, 492 (2005). Those words can only mean one
thing: the Compassionate Use Act intended to cause no impact on existing
employment rights. The Compassionate Use Act neither created new
employment rights nor destroyed existing employment rights; it certainly
expressed no intent to alter the LAD. Just as the Compassionate Use Act
imposes no burden on defendants, it negates no rights or claims available to
plaintiff that emanate from the LAD.3
Once the relationship of these legislative enactments is so understood, the
matter boils down to a routine determination of whether plaintiff sufficiently
stated one or more causes of action under the LAD. For our purposes, one such
claim is enough. Oasis Therapeutic Life Ctrs., Inc. v. Wade, 457 N.J. Super.
218, 229 n.6 (App. Div. 2018). As observed, the second amended complaint
contains allegations that Carriage – aided and abetted by the individual
Our holding is similar to conclusions reached about other states' similarly-
worded compassionate use acts. See Roe v. TeleTech Customer Care Mgmt.
(Colo.) LLC, 257 P.3d 586, 591-92 (Wash. 2011) (construing Wash. Rev. Code
Ann. § 69.51A.060(4)); Casias v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 764 F. Supp. 2d 914,
921-22 (W.D. Mich. 2011) (construing Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. §
333.26427(c)(2)). In both cases, those courts held that the stateme nt in the
medical-marijuana act there in question – that also utilized the "nothing in this
act" language found in N.J.S.A. 24:6I-14 – could not create a private cause of
action against an employer for wrongful discharge. Plaintiff here, however, does
not allege a newly-created private cause of action for wrongful discharge; he
instead argues that his termination violated those rights he possessed under the
LAD. And we note that Connecticut and Arizona expressly prohibit, at least to
some degree, employers from discriminating against employees for medical
marijuana use, see Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Op. Co., 273 F. Supp. 3d 326, 334
(D. Conn. 2017) (construing Conn. Gen. Stat. § 21a-408p(b)(3)); Ariz. Rev. Stat.
Ann. § 36-2813, but those authorities are also distinguishable because our
Compassionate Use Act is simply silent on the subject except to the extent
N.J.S.A. 24:6I-14 refutes the notion that any such rights were created by its
defendants – discriminated against plaintiff, who claims to be a cancer sufferer
and, for that reason, a medical-marijuana user. While defendants may argue
termination was based on plaintiff's inability to perform the tasks required or
because his inability to pass a drug test may jeopardize licensing – all potential
responses to a prima facie discrimination claim that would then be subject to
allegations of pretextuality – we cannot ignore that this case is only at the
pleading stage; our only role is to search with liberality the second amended
complaint for a fundament of a cause of action without searching the pleading
for proof of the allegations.
To state a prima facie case for disability or perceived disability
discrimination under the LAD, a plaintiff must allege: (1) a disability or the
employer's perception that the employee was disabled; (2) the employee remains
qualified to perform the essential functions of the job and was performing at a
level that met the employer's expectations; (3) an adverse employment action
because of the disability or perceived disability; and (4) the employer thereafter
sought a similarly qualified individual. Grande v. St. Clare's Health Sys., 230 N.J. 1, 17-18 (2017); Victor v. State, 203 N.J. 383, 410-13 (2010).
If a plaintiff establishes this prima facie case, "a presumption arises that
the employer unlawfully discriminated against the plaintiff." Grande, 230 N.J.
at 18 (quoting Clowes v. Terminix Int'l, Inc., 109 N.J. 575, 596 (1988)). The
analysis then proceeds to the next step, where "the employer's burden varies
depending on whether the employer seeks to establish the reasonableness of the
otherwise discriminatory act or advances a non-discriminatory reason for the
employee's discharge." Id. at 18-19 (quoting Jansen v. Food Circus
Supermarkets, Inc., 110 N.J. 363, 382 (1988)). If the employer claims a non-
discriminatory reason for the discharge, "the burden of production – not the
burden of proof or persuasion – shifts to the employer." Id. at 19 (quoting
Jansen, 110 N.J. at 382).
The employee may respond with proof that the employer's proffered
reason "was not the true reason for the employment decision but was merely a
pretext for discrimination." Ibid. (quoting Jansen, 110 N.J. at 382-83). "To
prove pretext, however, a plaintiff must do more than simply show that the
employer's reason was false; [the plaintiff] must also demonstrate that the
employer was motivated by discriminatory intent." Viscik v. Fowler Equip. Co.,
173 N.J. 1, 14 (2002). The burden of proving that the employer intentionally
discriminated remains at all time with the employee. Grande, 230 N.J. at 19.
We, of course, are not at the stage where the proofs alleged are to be
weighed and analyzed. We need only determine whether plaintiff pleaded the
elements of a prima facie case.
In this regard, defendants argue that plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege
an LAD claim because he did not allege defendants were aware of his alleged
disability nor did he allege that an accommodation was sought. An examination
of what's contained in the second amended complaint's four corners reveals
defendants are mistaken.
Their mistake – and the judge's mistake in granting the motion – may come
from the way in which plaintiff pleaded his claims. The second amended
complaint alleged in dozens of enumerated paragraphs the operative facts upon
which his separate causes of action are based. We summarized those allegations
in Section II(B) above. But the analysis at this stage should not be on the
sufficiency of what plaintiff may claim to be able to prove. The only question
now is whether plaintiff set forth those allegations necessary to his causes of
action. We conclude that he did.
In his broader allegations under each separate count, plaintiff asserted
those things that defendants, in their motion to dismiss, contended were lacking.
And defendants continue to argue plaintiff did not allege they were aware of his
alleged disability. But plaintiff stated in his second amended complaint:
"[Carriage] treated [p]laintiff in a discriminatory
manner due to [p]laintiff's disability."
"[Carriage] terminated [p]laintiff due to his
disability and off work use of prescribed medical
"These illegal actions were committed against
[p]laintiff and the conduct complained of would
not have occurred but for [p]laintiff's disability."
Were we to stop here, we would conclude that plaintiff alleged enough to require
the motion's denial. Even if it could be said that, in these paragraphs, plaintiff
failed to affirmatively state that defendants knew of or perceived a disability,
the assertions that plaintiff was terminated "due to his disability" or that Carriage
would not have so acted "but for" his disability connotes that Carriage knew of
the alleged disability. How could Carriage have acted because of the alleged
disability if it did not perceive or know it? Moreover, because plaintiff was
entitled to the benefit of "every reasonable inference of fact," Printing Mart, 116 N.J. at 746, it was certainly inferable from the allegations quoted above that
plaintiff was claiming that defendants knew of or perceived a disability.
But, in searching further, we find the exact allegation defendants claim is
"Defendants were aware of [p]laintiff's disability,
as [d]efendant's upper management communi-
cated with [p]laintiff regarding [p]laintiff's
disability and need for continued care and/or
Defendants' argument that plaintiff failed to allege they were aware of his
alleged disability is eviscerated by the second amended complaint's allegation
that "[d]efendants were aware of [p]laintiff's disability."
Defendants also contend plaintiff failed to plead that he requested an
accommodation because of his disability. Again, the second amended complaint
contains numerous allegations that fit that bill, including:
"Despite knowing of [p]laintiff's disability and
need for continued care and/or treatment,
[d]efendants failed to engage [p]laintiff in any
meaning[ful] process to discuss his disability."
"It was discussed between [p]laintiff and
defendants that due to his disability, he would be
required to undergo pain management and needed
relief from pain by taking certain drugs
prescribed to him [by] his doctor."
These allegations more than adequately rebut the claim that plaintiff failed to
allege this necessary aspect of his LAD claims.
We gather that defendants' position, which also informs the judge's
decision, is not so much that plaintiff didn't allege those specific pieces of a
prima facie LAD claim but that the specific factual recitation contained in the
"fact" section of his second amended complaint fails to support the allegations
about defendant's awareness of the alleged disability and any request for
accommodation. Defendants might also ultimately argue that an LAD action in
these circumstances cannot be sustained because the use of medical marijuana
may preclude plaintiff from performing the job. 4 N.J.S.A. 10:5-4.1.5 Whether
there is any truth to this is beside the point. As we have mentioned, it is enough
to survive such a motion that a plaintiff has uttered the allegations required to
The Legislature declared that the Compassionate Use Act should not be
construed so as to permit a person to "operate, navigate, or be in the actual
physical control of any vehicle . . . while under the influence of marijuana,"
N.J.S.A. 24:6I-8(a), or permit "smok[ing] marijuana . . . in a private vehicle
unless the vehicle is not in operation, . . . or in any place where smoking is
prohibited . . .," N.J.S.A. 24:6I-8(b). Since plaintiff did not allege that he sought
an accommodation that would have allowed him to "smoke marijuana" while
operating a vehicle on the job, we do not presently see how N.J.S.A. 24:6I-8(b)
would form a basis for Carriage's refusal to accommodate. The impact of
N.J.S.A. 24:6I-8(a) obviously will require further development and analysis,
since it is not limited to "smoking" marijuana but envelopes the use of a vehicle
"while under the influence." At this stage, it is not remotely clear how use of
medical marijuana during non-working hours might generate an assertion that
plaintiff is unable to perform an aspect of the work – the driving of a hearse or
other vehicle – because it is not clear the plaintiff would or could be "under the
influence of marijuana" if his use was limited to non-working hours.
In Vargo v. Nat'l Exch. Carriers Ass'n, Inc., 376 N.J. Super. 364, 383 (App.
Div. 2005), we found that an employer did not violate the LAD when it
perceived an employee to be a user of illegal drugs based on a failed drug test.
That decision has no bearing on the impact of a failed drug test caused by the
legal use of medical marijuana.
support the causes of action asserted. Indeed, even when such allegations are
not as clearly expressed as here, the applicable standard requires a denial of a
motion to dismiss if "a cause of action may be gleaned even from an obscure
statement of claim." Printing Mart, 116 N.J. at 746. The judge's opinion
expressed his belief that more was required of plaintiff than what Printing Mart
requires and, for that reason, was erroneous. 6
We also reject defendants' suggestion that – at least at this stage – the
Compassionate Use Act somehow immunizes actions otherwise potentially
violative of the LAD because the Compassionate Use Act expressly declares that
nothing about it "shall be construed to require . . . an employer to accommodate
the medical use of marijuana in any workplace." N.J.S.A. 24:6I-14. Plaintiff
does not allege the accommodation he sought was the right to use medical
marijuana in any workplace. Instead, while generally alleging his disability
"required" that he "undergo pain management and needed relief from pain by
taking" prescribed drugs, plaintiff also alleged he discussed with Carriage
For example, in mistakenly concluding that plaintiff failed to allege a
requested accommodation, the judge observed that plaintiff "d[id] not identify
specific individuals to whom or when the request was made or what was
requested." Even if true and not ascertainable through the benefit of reasonable
inferences, it was not necessary that plaintiff provide evidence to support his
allegations to defeat this motion. That burden comes later in the litigation.
representatives that this pain-management treatment would constitute the taking
of "prescribed drugs" during "off-work hours" and through "off-site
administration." To rephrase what we said earlier, just because the Legislature
declared that "[n]othing in [the Compassionate Use Act] shall be construed to
require . . . an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any
workplace," N.J.S.A. 24:6I-14, does not mean that the LAD may not impose
such an obligation, particularly when the declination of an accommodation to
such a user relates only to use "in any workplace." Ibid. Judging this argument
solely by reference to the pleadings and the statutes in questions, we repeat that
plaintiff did not allege he sought an accommodation for his use of medical
marijuana "in [the] workplace"; he alleged only that he sought an
accommodation that would allow his continued use of medical marijuana "off-
site" or during "off-work hours."
Because we conclude that the Compassionate Use Act does not immunize
what the LAD prohibits and because the second amended complaint – whether
viewed as written, or when viewed expansively and with liberality, as required
by Printing Mart – contains those allegations required by the LAD, we reverse
the order dismissing the LAD claims and remand for further proceedings. 7
We need only briefly discuss the dismissal of plaintiff's defamation and
intentional interference claims. As noted, those claims were dismissed "without
prejudice" and, when plaintiff inquired whether that designation authorized the
filing of a third amended complaint embracing those counts, the judge didn't say
and merely entered another order that dismissed those counts "without
We have overlooked for present purposes whether that order was a final
order for appeal purposes. But, because the "without prejudice" condition
bespeaks a right to further pursue those claims, we can only assume that the
The judge dismissed the aiding and abetting claims against the individual
defendants because, as he said, when a plaintiff "has failed to allege" an LAD
violation "there can be no aiding and abetting liability." Because we hold that
plaintiff sufficiently asserted an LAD claim against Carriage, the linchpin to the
judge's holding on the aiding and abetting claims has been removed. So, we
reverse that part of the order under review that dismissed the aiding and abetting
claims. And we need not undertake an individual analysis of each separately
alleged LAD cause of action pleaded by plaintiff because it is enough that we
find a maintainable LAD cause of action. Oasis Therapeutic Life Ctrs., 457 N.J.
Super. at 229 n.6.
judge intended to provide plaintiff with the opportunity to file an amended
pleading. Had he not so intended, his dismissal would have been with prejudice.
We urge trial judges to not only express whether a dismissal pursuant to
Rule 4:6-2(e) is with or without prejudice but also, when dismissing a claim
without prejudice, expressly provide that the pleader may amend.
For these reasons, we reverse that part of the order under review that
dismissed all the LAD claims with prejudice and we remand for further
proceedings on those claims. As stated, we view the order that dismissed the
defamation and intentional interference claims without prejudice as implicitly
permitting plaintiff the right to file an amended pleading, even though the judge
did not so state. So viewed, we express no view on that disposition and only
remand for an amended order so that a deadline may be fixed for plaintiff's
amended pleading on those counts.
Reversed and remanded for proceedings in conformity with this opinion.
We do not retain jurisdiction.