MACDERMID INCORPORATED v. STEPHEN J. LEONETTI, SC 19077
Judicial District of Waterbury
Whether Doctrine of Absolute Immunity Bars Employee’s Claim that Employer’s Suit Brought in Retaliation for Employee’s Pursuit of Claim for Workers’ Compensation Benefits. The plaintiff brought this action against the defendant, its former employee, seeking to rescind an agreement it had entered with the defendant regarding the terms under which the defendant’s employment was terminated. The plaintiff claimed that the agreement was procured through fraud. In particular, it asserted that the agreement contained a provision by which it agreed to pay the defendant over $70,000 in return for the defendant’s release of any claims that he had against the plaintiff, including any claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant signed the agreement with no intention of honoring that provision and that, in breach of the agreement, he pursued a workers’ compensation claim against the plaintiff. The defendant filed a counterclaim, alleging that the plaintiff filed this suit in retaliation for his exercise of his rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act in violation of General Statutes § 31-290a. The plaintiff moved to dismiss the counterclaim, arguing that it was barred by the doctrine of absolute immunity as applied to statements made in the context of judicial proceedings. The plaintiff argued that absolute immunity barred the retaliation claim because that claim was premised solely on the plaintiff’s act of bringing this lawsuit. The trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss. It noted that the question of whether immunity applies in any given case requires a balancing of interests, and it found that a balancing of the interests involved here weighed against applying the doctrine of absolute immunity to bar the defendant’s claim of retaliation in violation of § 31-290a. In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the trial court properly denied the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss the defendant’s counterclaim.