Torts Keyed to Henderson
Taylor v. Metzger
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Carrie Taylor (Plaintiff), an African American sheriff’s officer for 20 years, was at the county police academy for firearms training when she encountered Burlington County Sheriff Henry Metzger (Defendant) and Undersheriff Gerald Isham. Plaintiff said hello to Defendant, who responded by turning to Isham and stating, “[t]here’s the jungle bunny.” Isham laughed. Plaintiff did not respond, but shortly thereafter became a “nervous wreck” and began crying. The following week, Defendant attempted to provide Plaintiff with a written apology on two occasions, but Plaintiff refused to accept each time. Plaintiff disclosed the incident to colleagues at the academy and later to the media and several newspapers which reported on the incident. Afterwards, Plaintiff did not lose any income and her basic employment remained unchanged. Plaintiff did lose her position as floor supervisor which was attributed to the fact that only sergeants were eligible for that position. However, co-workers avoided her and she was labeled by some as a “troublemaker.” Plaintiff claims the incident caused her emotional distress and filed suit against Defendant. Plaintiff was afraid to leave work by herself, she purchased a bullet-proof vest, suffered from insomnia and experienced nightmares recounting the incident. She also experienced mood changes and began losing her hair. Plaintiff was diagnosed with “adjustment disorder with mixed emotional features” which was later revised to “post-traumatic stress disorder.” The trial court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment and Plaintiff appealed. The appellate division affirmed the trial court’s judgment. The New Jersey Supreme Court granted review.
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