From Casetext: Smarter Legal Research

Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings

SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY
Mar 10, 2020
241 N.J. 285 (N.J. 2020)

Opinion

A-91 September Term 2018 082836

03-10-2020

Justin WILD, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. CARRIAGE FUNERAL HOLDINGS, INC. d/b/a Feeney Funeral Home, LLC; David B. Feeney, and Ginny Sanzo, Defendants-Appellants.

Steven J. Luckner argued the cause for appellants (Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, attorneys; Steven J. Luckner and Michael J. Riccobono, on the briefs). Jamison M. Mark argued the cause for respondent (The Mark Law Firm, attorneys; Jamison M. Mark, on the brief). Mayur P. Saxena, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for amicus curiae Attorney General of New Jersey (Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney General, attorney; Melissa H. Raksa, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel, and Mayur P. Saxena, on the brief). Elizabeth Zuckerman argued the cause for amicus curiae National Employment Lawyers Association of New Jersey (Mason, Griffin & Pierson, attorneys; Elizabeth Zuckerman, on the briefs). Dillon J. McGuire argued the cause for amicus curiae American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (Pashman Stein Walder Hayden and American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, attorneys; CJ Griffin and Jeanne LoCicero, of counsel, and Dillon J. McGuire, on the brief).


Steven J. Luckner argued the cause for appellants (Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, attorneys; Steven J. Luckner and Michael J. Riccobono, on the briefs).

Jamison M. Mark argued the cause for respondent (The Mark Law Firm, attorneys; Jamison M. Mark, on the brief).

Mayur P. Saxena, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for amicus curiae Attorney General of New Jersey (Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney General, attorney; Melissa H. Raksa, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel, and Mayur P. Saxena, on the brief).

Elizabeth Zuckerman argued the cause for amicus curiae National Employment Lawyers Association of New Jersey (Mason, Griffin & Pierson, attorneys; Elizabeth Zuckerman, on the briefs).

Dillon J. McGuire argued the cause for amicus curiae American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (Pashman Stein Walder Hayden and American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, attorneys; CJ Griffin and Jeanne LoCicero, of counsel, and Dillon J. McGuire, on the brief).

PER CURIAM

The judgment of the Superior Court, Appellate Division is affirmed substantially for the reasons expressed in Judge Fisher's thoughtful published opinion. We add the following brief comments.

We concur with the Appellate Division that at the pleading stage of this case, in which the facts have yet to be developed and plaintiff is entitled to every reasonable inference of fact, plaintiff has stated a claim sufficient to survive defendants' motion to dismiss under Rule 4:6-2. Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc., 458 N.J. Super. 416, 423-24, 205 A.3d 1144 (App. Div. 2019) (citing Printing Mart-Morristown v. Sharp Elecs. Corp., 116 N.J. 739, 746, 563 A.2d 31 (1989) ). We share the Appellate Division's view that there is no conflict between the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (Compassionate Use Act), N.J.S.A. 24:6I-1 to -16, and the Law Against Discrimination (LAD), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -49. Id. at 428, 205 A.3d 1144.

The Compassionate Use Act was amended after the events of this case. See L. 2019, c. 153, § 1 (2019). The Court therefore cites and applies the statutory provisions as they existed prior to the 2019 amendments, as indicated by the "(2018)" parenthetical. The cited provisions were all modified in 2019.
--------

We decline, however, to adopt the Appellate Division's view that "the Compassionate Use Act intended to cause no impact on existing employment rights." Ibid. Plaintiff's LAD disability discrimination claim derived in part from his assertion that, outside the workplace, he lawfully used medical marijuana prescribed for him in accordance with the Compassionate Use Act, which decriminalized the use of medical marijuana for "any qualifying patient, primary caregiver, alternative treatment center, physician, or any other person acting in accordance with" its terms. N.J.S.A. 24:6I-6(a) (2018) ; N.J.S.A. 2C:35-18. Plaintiff specifically alleged that his medical marijuana was prescribed for "medical treatment [and] pain management" pursuant to the Compassionate Use Act. As plaintiff acknowledged at oral argument, had the Legislature not enacted the Compassionate Use Act, he would have no LAD claim for disability discrimination or failure to accommodate following the termination of his employment.

The Appellate Division correctly identified plaintiff's disability discrimination and failure to accommodate causes of action as LAD claims to be evaluated under LAD standards, Wild, 458 N.J. Super. at 429-32, 205 A.3d 1144 ; however, the Compassionate Use Act does have an impact on plaintiff's existing employment rights. In a case such as this, in which plaintiff alleges that the Compassionate Use Act authorized his use of medical marijuana outside the workplace, that Act's provisions may be harmonized with the law governing LAD disability discrimination claims.

We add only that two particular provisions of the Compassionate Use Act may affect a LAD discrimination or failure to accommodate claim in certain settings. In N.J.S.A. 24:6I-14 (2018), the Legislature provided 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." In N.J.S.A. 24:6I-8 (2018), the Legislature further stated in part that the Act "shall not be construed to permit a person to: a. operate, navigate or be in actual physical control of any vehicle, aircraft, railroad train, stationary heavy equipment or vessel while under the influence of marijuana." To the extent that the circumstances surrounding a LAD disability discrimination claim were to implicate one or both of those provisions of the Compassionate Use Act, the Act would have an impact on that claim.

At this early stage of this case, in which the facts have yet to be developed and plaintiff's allegations are entitled to every reasonable inference of fact, we do not view those provisions to bar his cause of action. We agree with the Appellate Division that plaintiff has properly stated a claim under the LAD.

CHIEF JUSTICE RABNER and JUSTICES LaVECCHIA, ALBIN, PATTERSON, FERNANDEZ-VINA, SOLOMON, and TIMPONE join in this opinion.


Summaries of

Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings

SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY
Mar 10, 2020
241 N.J. 285 (N.J. 2020)
Case details for

Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings

Case Details

Full title:Justin Wild, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc…

Court:SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY

Date published: Mar 10, 2020

Citations

241 N.J. 285 (N.J. 2020)
227 A.3d 1206

Citing Cases

Hager v. M&K Constr.

Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc., 458 N.J. Super. 416, 427 (App. Div. 2019), aff'd, 241 N.J. 285…

Akers v. Gloucester Term

This claim does not appear to necessitate an analysis of the CBA, but rather relies on New Jersey Supreme…