Rettig v. Town of Woodbridge
An employee of a municipal district established pursuant to C.G.S. §7-330 is an employee of the towns comprising the district for purposes of the exclusivity provision of the Workers' Compensation Act, C.G.S. §31-275. Judy Rettig was employed as an animal control officer for the district animal control, established by various towns including Woodbridge, Bethany, Orange and Prospect pursuant to C.G.S. §7-330. C.G.S. §7-330 permits two or more towns to form a "district" to perform any municipal function that the member towns may, under any provision of the General Statutes, perform separately. In accordance with the municipal animal control district agreement, each town paid a designated share of the operating expenses of the district. The district paid Rettig's salary and benefits and purchased workers' compensation insurance on her behalf. Rettig slipped and fell in the course of her employment and was injured. She filed a timely workers' compensation claim against the district which settled for $800,000. Rettig commenced this action against the towns in the district pursuant to C.G.S. §52-557n seeking damages for her injuries. The trial court rendered summary judgment to the defendant towns concluding that the defendants were Rettig's employer and, therefore, that her claims were barred by the exclusivity provision of the Workers' Compensation Act, C.G.S. §31-275. Rettig appealed claiming that the court incorrectly concluded that the defendants were her employer and, therefore, that her claims were barred. The Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed the judgment. The trial court correctly determined that an employee of the district animal control is an employee of the municipalities served by the district for purposes of the exclusivity provision of the act. The reasoning from cases concerning municipal boards of education applied including the 1965 Connecticut Supreme Court case of Wallingford v. Board of Education and the 1972 case of Mase v. Meriden. Just as local boards of education exercise their authority on behalf of the municipalities they serve, so too, do the members of the district board exercise their authority on behalf of the defendant towns. It is axiomatic that municipal boards and agencies are extensions of the towns they serve, created for the purpose of performing those functions that towns are statutorily required or permitted to perform. The district animal control was no different.