NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE
APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
This opinion shall not "constitute precedent or be binding upon any court." Although it is posted on the
internet, this opinion is binding only on the parties in the case and its use in other cases is limited. R. 1:36-3.
SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY
DOCKET NO. A-3218-17T2
PROSPECT EOGH, INC., d/b/a
EAST ORANGE GENERAL
HOSPITAL, and PROSPECT
MEDICAL HOLDINGS, INC.,
Argued on October 31, 2018 – Decided November 21, 2018
Before Judges Koblitz, Currier and Mayer.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law
Division, Essex County, Docket No. L-7912-17.
Ivan R. Novich argued the cause for appellant
(Littler Mendelson, PC, attorneys; Ivan R. Novich, of
counsel and on the brief; Lauren J. Marcus, on the
Arthur L. Raynes argued the cause for respondent
(Wiley Malehorn Sirota & Raynes, attorneys; Arthur L.
Raynes, of counsel and on the brief; Courtney A. Reed
Keren, on the brief).
Plaintiff Anita Walsh sued her former employer, Prospect EOGH, Inc.
d/b/a East Orange General Hospital and Prospect Medical Holdings, Inc.
(defendants) claiming she was wrongfully discharged under the New Jersey
Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), N.J.S.A. 34:19-1 to -14.
Defendants filed a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to an arbitration
agreement (Agreement) that plaintiff admits signing. Plaintiff claims that the
Agreement was not explained to her, she does not recall signing it, and argues
for the first time on appeal that it is not enforceable because defendants did not
sign the document. Without allowing the requested oral argument, the motion
court issued an order denying defendants' motion, writing on it only: "Plaintiff
did not agree to give up right jury [sic] trial." We reverse and remand for
reconsideration, with oral argument.
Plaintiff signed the Agreement on September 8, 2016, three days before
she began work, in connection with her employment as Vice President of
Operations. The Agreement is labeled "East Orange General Hospital Mutual
Agreement to Arbitrate." Although there was a signature line for defendants,
they did not sign the Agreement. The Agreement states:
To the fullest extent allowed by law, any controversy,
claim or dispute between you and Prospect EOGH, Inc.
dba East Orange General Hospital and/or any of its
related entities, holding companies, parents,
subsidiaries, divisions, officers, shareholders,
directors, employees, agents, vendors, contractors,
doctors, patients, insurers, predecessors, successors,
and assigns (collectively, "the Company") relating to or
arising out of your employment or the cessation of that
employment will be submitted to final and binding
The Agreement covers "all employment related claims including, but not limited
to . . . violation of public policy, discrimination . . . or any other employment -
related claim under any state or federal statutes or laws relating to an employee’s
relationship with his/her employer . . . ." The Agreement also states, directly
above the signature lines, in capital letters: "BY AGREEING TO THIS
BINDING MUTUAL ARBITRATION PROVISION, BOTH YOU AND THE
COMPANY GIVE UP ALL RIGHTS TO A TRIAL BY JURY. BY SIGNING
BELOW, I CONFIRM THAT I HAVE READ, UNDERSTAND, AND AGREE
TO THIS ARBITRATION AGREEMENT."
Defendants terminated plaintiff's employment on March 15, 2017, for
reasons that she asserts in her November 2017 complaint were pretextual in
nature. Plaintiff alleges that she was terminated, contrary to CEPA, because
she voiced her objections to the hospital's practices.
Defendants argue on appeal that their request for oral argument was
denied improperly. They rely on Raspantini v. Arocho, 364 N.J. Super. 528,
531 (App. Div. 2003) (stating that "because defendants' initial motion sought
dispositive relief, plaintiffs' request for oral argument should have been granted
as of right"). Defendants argue that although a trial court may deny a request
for oral argument on a substantive motion, "the reason for the denial of the
request, in that circumstance, should itself be set forth on the record," which the
trial court did not do here. Id. at 531-32. We agree with defendants that oral
argument, or the reason for not affording oral argument, must be provided by
Defendants urge us not to remand the matter to the motion court because
of the lack of oral argument, but rather to review the motion de novo. The
reasons for the court's decision, however, are also lacking. The trial court must
provide reasons with its decisions, either on the record or in writing. As we said
more than twenty years ago,
Unfortunately, the judge made no findings of fact or
legal conclusions as required by Rule 1:6-2(f). An
articulation of reasons is essential to the fair resolution
of a case. A trial judge has a duty to make findings of
fact and conclusions of law "on every motion decided
by written orders that are appealable as of right." R.
1:7-4. Failure to perform this duty "'constitutes a
disservice to the litigants, the attorneys and the
appellate court.'" Curtis v. Finneran, 83 N.J. 563, 569-
70 (1980) (quoting Kenwood Assocs. v. Bd. of
Adjustment of Englewood, 141 N.J. Super. 1, 4 (App.
Div. 1976)); see id. at 570 ("Naked conclusions do not
satisfy the purpose of Rule 1:7-4.").
[Italiano v. Rudkin (Italiano), 294 N.J. Super. 502, 505
(App. Div. 1996).]
"Moreover, the appellate court ordinarily cannot perform its review
function in the absence of findings." Filippone v. Lee, 304 N.J. Super. 301, 306
(App. Div. 1997). Although we review the grant of a motion for summary
judgment de novo, we cannot review the decision of the trial court on a blank
slate. Estate of Doerfler v. Fed. Ins. Co., 454 N.J. Super. 298, 301-02 (App.
Div. 2018). The court wrote one sentence on the order, finding no evidence of
a waiver of a jury trial, although such a waiver is set forth clearly in the
Agreement. We are thus unclear as to whether the motion court reviewed the
proper material. Additionally, the court gave no reason for not allowing oral
We reverse and remand to the court for oral argument and a reasoned
decision. In the interest of completeness, the parties should be allowed to
supplement their motion papers.
Reversed and remanded. We do not retain jurisdiction.