Supreme Court Reaffirms Workers Compensation Exclusivity

workers compensation form picWorkers compensation has been described as a bargain in which an employee who has suffered a workplace injury relinquishes potentially large common-law tort damages in exchange for relatively quick and certain compensation provided by workers compensation insurance. This principle is known as the exclusivity rule.   In the recent case of Velecela v. All Habitat Services, LLC, 322 Conn. 335, decided on August 9, 2016, the Connecticut Supreme Court reaffirmed a broad interpretation of the exclusivity rule.

The tort claim in Velecela was for bystander emotional distress, which allows damages for emotional distress occurring when a family member witnesses the injury or death of a loved one due to the negligence of another.  The tragic circumstances of Velecela were that the plaintiff’s husband, an auto mechanic, was killed when struck by a vehicle which fell from a repair shop lift, and the plaintiff herself, coming to the workplace to deliver her husband’s lunch, discovered the body.  The plaintiff received funeral expenses and survivors benefits under the workers compensation policy, but sued for additional damages for emotional distress.

The Supreme Court held that the bystander emotional distress claim arose out of the death of an employee in the course of employment, and was therefore subject to the exclusivity rule.  The Court affirmed a grant of summary judgment by the trial court in favor of the employer.   The Court held that the “sweeping language” of the workers compensation exclusivity provision barred derivative actions brought by the dependents of the employee.

Tags: Wages

This blog/web site presents general information only. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice, and you should not consider or rely on it as such. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. This website is not an offer to represent you. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based upon any information at this website. Neither our presentation of such information nor your receipt of it creates nor will create an attorney-client relationship with any reader of this blog. Any links from another site to the blog are beyond the control of Pullman & Comley, LLC and do not convey their approval, support or any relationship to any site or organization. Any description of a result obtained for a client in the past is not intended to be, and is not, a guarantee or promise the firm can or will achieve a similar outcome.

Subscribe to Updates

About Our Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Law Blog

Alerts, commentary, and insights from the attorneys of Pullman & Comley’s Labor, Employment Law and Employee Benefits practice on such workplace topics as labor and employment law, counseling and training, litigation, union issues, as well as employee benefits and ERISA matters.

Other Blogs by Pullman & Comley

Connecticut Health Law Blog

Education Law Notes

For What It May Be Worth

Recent Posts


Jump to Page