Lefebure v. Antol
Allegations that a supervisor instructed a worker to use chemicals without adequate protective gear, after the worker was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery, may be adequate to allege that the employer intentionally created a dangerous condition that made the employee's injuries substantially certain to occur. The board of education hired the plaintiff, Cynthia Lefebure, as a paraprofessional, and she worked at the high school under the direction of a science teacher, Kim Antol. In 2000, Antol instructed the plaintiff to apply insecticides to plants that were used in the school's botany class. The plaintiff requested an applicator, a respirator and protective clothes. Allegedly, Antol instructed the plaintiff to use the botany department's gloves. Chemicals that the plaintiff applied allegedly ate away her gloves, and the plaintiff expressed concern to Antol. In March 2010, doctors diagnosed the plaintiff with colon cancer, and she underwent surgery. Allegedly, when she returned to work, Antol instructed the plaintiff to apply insecticides, the plaintiff complained to the principal and the insecticides were removed from the department. The plaintiff sued Antol, alleging that she was negligent and reckless, and the municipality, alleging it negligently failed to supervise and was strictly liable. The defendants moved to strike and argued that the Workers' Compensation Act provides the exclusive remedy. An exception exists, if the employee establishes the employer: 1.) intended to injure the employee; or 2.) intentionally created a dangerous condition that made the employee's injuries substantially certain to occur. The plaintiff's complaint adequately alleged that Antol, who was an agent, servant or employee of the municipality, had reason to believe that her conduct was substantially certain to harm the plaintiff. "[B]ecause the plaintiff has sufficiently pleaded facts that demonstrate injury to the plaintiff was substantially certain to result from the employer's acts or conduct," wrote the court, "the exclusivity provision of the Workers' Compensation Act, General Statutes §31-284 is not a bar to the plaintiff's claims." The court denied the municipal defendants' motion to strike.