Desmond v. Yale-New Haven Hospital, Inc.
Connecticut General Statutes §31-290c does not afford the plaintiff a private right of action; rather, it confers to the plaintiff the right to bring an action for statutory theft under C.G.S. §52-564. The trial court dismissed the complaint of Sandhya Desmond filed against her employer, the Yale-New Haven Hospital Inc. and Yale-New Haven Health Services, alleging workers' compensation fraud, statutory negligence, breach of contract, violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practice Act, C.G.S. §42-110a and her right to due process under the state constitution. The plaintiff appealed claiming that the court improperly determined that it lacked jurisdiction over her claims because the exclusivity provision of the Workers' Compensation Act, C.G.S. §31-275 barred her from bringing an action in the Superior Court and its decision dismissing her claims did not violate her right to due process under the state constitution. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The plaintiff argued that the trial court erroneously determined that the 2005 Supreme Court case of DeOliveira v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., was controlling and maintained that C.G.S. §31-290c established a civil cause of action over which the commission lacked jurisdiction. Violations of C.G.S. §31-290c, a criminal statute, did not afford the plaintiff a private right of action. It conferred to the plaintiff the right to bring an action for statutory theft under C.G.S. §52-564. The Appellate Court refused to construe the complaint, which made no mention of C.G.S. §52-564 until its prayer for relief, as making a claim of statutory theft. The counts at issue, despite their labels, only alleged that the defendants delayed in bad faith the workers' compensation claims of the plaintiff. Pursuant to DeOliveira, such claims fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of the commission. The case did not involve egregious conduct that warranted an exception from the general rule of exclusivity. The plaintiff's constitutional claim was found to be without merit. The plaintiff did not avail herself of the various remedies within the workers' compensation framework and did not demonstrate that it was an inadequate alternative to the enforcement of her rights.