What evidence do I need to prove my case against a New Jersey Administrative Agency or Board line the Board of Nursing, Department of Labor?
Do you want to appeal your unemployment compensation denial, disability pension denial, or any other decision from one of New Jersey’s many Administrative Agencies?
How can you win against an New Jersey’s Administrative Agencies?
Submitted by New Jersey Civil Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
New Jersey’s case law is well established and sell settled. First of all the burden of proof to persuade the Board you are appearing in front of is the ‘preponderance of evidence’ burden. However, the appellant, the party who has had an adverse decision made against it by the Board, must show that the Board abused its decision making power. You have to show that the Board did that in front of the ALJ by clear and convincing evidence. This is a much higher evidence standard because the Board is considered an expert in its own specific area of enforcement and is given great deference in its decision making process. Once the ALJ affirms the Board’s decision, then the burden to overturn the ALJ’s decision in a direct appeal to the appellate division is even harder. The court in this case stated very specifically:
Our review from a final decision of an administrative agency is limited. Russo v. Bd. of Trs., Police & Firemen’s Ret. Sys., 206 N.J. 14, 27 (2011) (citing In re Herrmann, 192 N.J. 19, 27 (2007)). The agency’s decision should be upheld unless there is a “‘clear showing that it is arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable, or that it lacks fair support in the record.'” Ibid. (quoting Herrmann, supra, 192 N.J. at 27-28). We accord deference to the credibility determinations of the ALJ, who had the opportunity to hear the testimony of the witnesses and consider the exhibits, Clowes v. Terminix Int’l, Inc., 109 N.J. 575, 587 (1988), and we may not “engage in an independent assessment of the evidence as if [we] were the court of first instance.” In re Taylor, 158 N.J. 644, 656 (1999) (quoting State v. Locurto, 157 N.J. 463, 471 (1999)). However, we are not bound by the agency’s statutory interpretation or other legal determinations. Russo, supra, 206 N.J. at 27…….Applying Skulski and Bueno, and guided by our limited scope of review, we discern no error in the Board’s decision. The ALJ weighed the expert testimony and concluded Dr. Bills’ and Dr. Gopez’s opinions regarding petitioner’s condition and ability to work as a nurse were more persuasive than those presented by Dr. Busono. The Board agreed with the ALJ’s findings on these points. Petitioner bore the burden of proving by a preponderance of the credible evidence that she is “physically or mentally incapacitated for the performance of duty and should be retired [in front of the Board at the time the evidence was submitted during the initial hearing process].” However, as noted by the ALJ, the evidence demonstrates Wagner was “employable in the general area of [her] ordinary employment,” registered nursing, Skulski, 68 N.J. at 205-06 (quoting Getty, supra, 85 N.J. Super. at 390), and was so employed for over a decade after leaving Trenton Psychiatric. Because the Board’s determination was amply supported by credible evidence and is neither arbitrary, capricious, nor unreasonable, we affirm.
The attorney in this case did fully argue this case at the Board level and the ALJ hearing level by bringing in several experts who provided written reports to the Board and then testified before the ALJ. S/he did present a full case and presented a full and complete record even though s/he lost. The key to this decision is the clear effort of the attorney to fight the case in full at the Board level and then in front of the ALJ. However, once the Board rendered a decision against you, it may be an up hill battle!