LISA BONANNO VS. COUNTY OF UNION NEW JERSEY (L-0928-19, UNION COUNTY AND STATEWIDE)

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NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION This opinion shall not "constitute precedent or be binding upon any court ."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 APPELLATE DIVISION DOCKET NO. A-0214-19 LISA BONANNO, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. COUNTY OF UNION NEW JERSEY, Defendant-Respondent. _________________________ Argued January 21, 2021 – Decided July 12, 2021 Before Judges Alvarez and Mitterhoff. On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Docket No. L-0928-19. Steven J. Kossup argued the cause for appellant. Courtney M. Knight argued the cause for respondent (Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Cappelli, LLC, attorneys; Courtney M. Knight, on the brief). PER CURIAM Plaintiff Lisa Bonanno appeals an August 27, 2019 order dismissing, with prejudice, her complaint in lieu of prerogative writs against defendant County of Union. On appeal, she challenges the dismissal of her complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, R. 4:6-2(e), due to the failure to exhaust her administrative remedies. R. 4:69-5. Alternatively, plaintiff maintains the judge erred in dismissing the complaint in lieu of prerogative writ s with prejudice. After careful review of the record, and in light of the applicable law, we affirm the dismissal for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. We agree, however, that dismissal with prejudice was not warranted and, therefore, remand for modification of the order of dismissal. We discern the following facts from the limited record before us, giving plaintiff "the benefit of all [the] favorable inferences." Stubaus v. Whitman, 339 N.J. Super. 38, 52 (App. Div. 2001). In 1988, plaintiff was initially employed by defendant as a clerk, which was classified as a permanent position. From 1990 to 2007, she was continuously employed by defendant in various capacities that were purportedly deemed "temporary" because they were funded, at least partially, pursuant to the Job Training Partnership Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1501 to 1792(b), and its successor program, the Workforce Investment Act, 29 U.S.C. A-0214-19 2 §§ 2801 to 2945, repealed by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 3101 to 3361. In 2017, plaintiff sought to purchase past service credits in the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS). The Division of Pensions and Benefits (the Division) requested that defendant fill out the appropriate employment verification forms for the period between 1994 and 2008. Defendant completed the forms and provided the documentation to the Division. The Division determined that plaintiff was only eligible to purchase service credits for a twelve-month period from July 1, 2007, until June 30, 2008. Plaintiff was apparently ineligible to purchase service credit from 1994 to 2007 because she was a "temporary employee" who was "employed under the federal Workforce Investment Act" and "the federal Job Training Partnership Act." N.J.S.A. 43:15A-7(h). In October 2018, plaintiff sent defendant letters requesting an accounting of her period of employment from 1994 to 2007, …

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