New Jersey University Has State Immunity, U.S. Court Rules

January 3, 2017

Montclair State University is an arm of the State of New Jersey and is therefore immune from a former employee's employment discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled Tuesday.

The 40-page decision by the three-judge appeals panel -- which overturned a lower court's ruling declaring that Montclair State could be sued by Paula Maliandi, a former media relations officer -- engaged in an extensive three-part test of the ways in which the university does, and does not, qualify as a state entity. The court determined that Montclair State is financially not an arm of the state because it derives more funding from alternative sources than from the state and because the state is not awarded to pay financial judgments against the institution. But because the university can't sue and be sued in its own name, is immune from state taxes, and (as a member of the state college system) is not governed autonomously, the court concluded that on balance, the university is an arm of the state.

It ordered the lower court to therefore dismiss Maliandi's lawsuit.

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