Lubrano v. Mohegan Sun Casino
The Appellate Court's 2000 decision in Schiano v. Bliss Exterminating Company, stands for the proposition that under C.G.S. §31-278, §31-293 and §31-352, the commissioner is entitled to know an employee's portion of a settlement with a third party to determine what part could be allocated to a moratorium of workers' compensation benefits by the employer; however, nothing in Schiano suggests that the commissioner has the authority to approve the reasonableness of an employee's settlement with a third party tortfeasor or interfere with the amount recovered by a consortium claimant. Joseph Lubrano, injured falling from a roof while employed by Mohegan Sun Casino, filed a negligence action against six defendants in the Mohegan Gaming Disputes Court and his wife sued for loss of consortium. Mohegan Sun Casino and Safety National Casualty Corporation filed an intervening complaint to recover workers' compensation benefits. In a settlement with the tortfeasors, the plaintiff received $2,190,056.37 and his wife received $2,021,590.46. The intervening defendants objected, withdrew their complaint and sought from the Workers' Compensation Commission a moratorium on benefits against the plaintiff's settlement and a portion of his wife's settlement. The parties agreed regarding a moratorium in the amount of the plaintiff's net recovery but the plaintiff asserted that the commission lacked jurisdiction to affect his wife's settlement under Soracco v. Williams Scotsman, Inc., a 2009 Connecticut Supreme Court case. The commissioner denied review. The Compensation Review Board affirmed the decision. The intervening defendants appealed claiming, inter alia, that the board erred in affirming the commissioner's finding that the commission lacked jurisdiction to review the amount of a spouse's recovery from a third party claim for loss of consortium when determining the appropriate moratorium due. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The board properly affirmed the commissioner's determination that the commission lacked jurisdiction to review the reasonableness of the allocation of third party settlement funds. Contrary to the intervening defendants' argument, the holding in Schiano prohibits the commissioner from interfering with the amount recovered by a consortium claimant. Further, under Soracco, an employer lacks statutory aggrievement to challenge a third party settlement allocation, regardless of whether the challenge is raised before the commission or Superior Court. Thus, the intervening defendants lacked the necessary statutory aggrievement to establish standing to contest the allocation.