Court Vacated Ruling That C.G.S. §31-51m Provides Exclusive Remedy
A court can permit a plaintiff who alleges that he was discharged because of his whistleblowing activities to plead in the alternative, to preserve his common-law claim of wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. The defendant, Hartford Fire Insurance, hired the plaintiff, David Evans. Allegedly, Evans filed internal reports to management about insurance practices and external reports to the Office of the Attorney General and the Insurance Department. Hartford Fire Insurance discharged the plaintiff and he sued. Evans' complaint alleged wrongful discharge, in violation of public policy, and wrongful discharge, in violation of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Ruling on the defendant's motion to dismiss, the District Court previously dismissed the plaintiff's common-law wrongful discharge claims on the grounds that Connecticut General Statutes §31-51m, a statute that protects whistleblowers, provided the plaintiff's exclusive remedy. The plaintiff moved for reconsideration of the earlier court decision. In Volles v. Knapp Neurosciences, a 2010 decision, the District Court wrote, "[I]t is not at all clear that section 31-51m was intended by the legislature to preempt all common law claims for wrongful termination based on public policy when an employee does not complain outside of her own employer." Here, the District Court decided to vacate the earlier order and to permit the plaintiff to plead common-law wrongful discharge claims in the alternative. When the defendant employer files a motion for summary judgment, the defendant can claim that C.G.S. §31-51m provides the exclusive remedy.