Jansson v. Stamford Health, Inc. et al
RULING (see attached) granting 211 Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration. Plaintiff must file her Revised Amended Complaint in conformance with this Ruling on or before April 27, 2018. Upon filing of that revised pleading, the Clerk is instructed to reinstate VantagePoint as a defendant on the case docket in this action.Signed by Judge Charles S. Haight, Jr. on April 11, 2018. (Dorais, L.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
Civil Action No.
No. 3:16-cv-260 (CSH)
STAMFORD HEALTH, INC. d/b/a
STAMFORD HOSPITAL, STAMFORD
ANESTHESIOLOGY SERVICES, P.C.,
VANTAGEPOINT LLC d/b/a
ADVISORS, MICHAEL COADY, SHARON
KIELY, SAL MANCINO and THERESA
APRIL 11, 2018
RULING ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION [DOC. 211]
HAIGHT, Senior District Judge:
In this employment discrimination action, Plaintiff Samantha Jansson alleges that she was
wrongfully terminated by her two former employers, Stamford Hospital (including Stamford Health,
Inc., doing business as Stamford Hospital) and Stamford Anesthesiology Services P.C. ("SAS"). The
Court has recounted the facts of the case in its previous rulings, familiarity with which is assumed.
Recently, the Court granted in part and denied in part Plaintiff's third motion to amend her
complaint. Jansson v. Stamford Health, Inc., No. 3:16-CV-260 (CSH), 2018 WL 1557250, at *1 (D.
Conn. Mar. 30, 2018). Plaintiff now moves for reconsideration of that ruling on two Counts of her
Complaint. The Ruling resolves that motion.
"The standard for granting such a motion is strict, and reconsideration will generally be
denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked
– matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the
court." Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995)(citing Schonberger v. Serchuk,
742 F.Supp. 108, 119 (S.D.N.Y.1990); Adams v. United States, 686 F. Supp. 417, 418
In the case at bar, Plaintiff asserts that the Court failed to take into account the general
provisions of the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities ("CHCRO") , which
include a definition of "person" that should be applied in the CFEPA provision at Conn. Gen. Stat.
§ 46a-60(a)(5).1 That definition states:
(14) "Person" means one or more individuals, partnerships, associations,
corporations, limited liability companies, legal representatives, trustees, trustees in
bankruptcy, receivers and the state and all political subdivisions and agencies thereof;
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-51(14). Plaintiff argues that in light of the application of this general
definition to the provision at issue, the Court's ruling, dismissing as futile her proposed Counts Ten
and Fourteen, may be altered.
The Court examines each of these dismissed counts in light of this provision Plaintiff now
A. Count Ten - Aiding and Abetting - CFEPA - VantagePoint
Plaintiff seeks to assert a claim against VantagePoint under former Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-60
Plaintiff cites the statute as Conn. Gen. § 46a-60(a)(5). That provision was in effect at the
time she filed her original complaint but has since been renamed as § 46a-60(b)(5) in an amendment
effective October 1, 2017.
(a)(5), which provides:
It shall be a discriminatory practice in violation of this section: . . .
For any person, whether an employer or an employee or not, to aid, abet, incite,
compel or coerce the doing of any act declared to be a discriminatory employment
practice or to attempt to do so.
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-60(a)(5) (emphasis added).2
Plaintiff asserts that the CHRO has defined a "person" as "one or more individuals,
partnerships, associations, corporations, limited liability companies, legal representatives, trustees,
trustees in bankruptcy, receivers and the state and all political subdivisions and agencies thereof."
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-51. This definition, "[a]s used in section 4a-60 and this chapter," applies to
the CFEPA.3 Id.
Accordingly, Plaintiff states that her tenth count against corporate entity
VantagePoint is proper, even though it is not against an individual.
The general definitions set forth in § 46a-51 of the CHRO have evolved with judicial
interpretation of their legislative meaning.4 In Perodeau v. City of Hartford, 259 Conn. 729, 744,
792 A.2d 752, 761 (2002), the Connecticut Supreme Court concluded that § 46a-60 (a)(1) does not
impose liability on individual employees. Therefore, an "employer," who may be, inter alia, a
"person" (with three or more employees) under former § 46a-60 (a)(1) may be held liable. However,
See n. 1, supra.
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4a-60a relates to "Provisions re nondiscrimination on the basis of
sexual orientation required in awarding agency, municipal public works and quasi-public agency
project contracts," so is inapposite. The phrase "this chapter," however, includes the CFEPA.
Such interpretation may be necessary because the CHRO's general definitions may create
a certain degree of ambiguity in their application. For example, examining the definitions on their
face, if a "person" includes a partnership or corporation, an "employee" may also be a corporate
entity because an employee is defined as "any person employed by an employer." Conn. Gen. Stat.
§§ 46a-51(9), (14). This Court voices no opinion on this matter.
an individual who is an employee, and even the employer's "agent," is not liable under that
With respect to "person" in former § 46a-60(a)(5), the parties' prior briefs presented no case
law directly interpreting the applicable scope of the definition of "person." Moreover, the case law
presented speaks to this provision as one giving rise to individuals' liability.5 In particular,
Connecticut case law holds that individual employees are not liable for discriminatory practices
under § 46a-60(a)(1), but are liable under §§ 46a-60(a)(4) and (5) because these sections specifically
mention "persons" as potentially liable. Perodeau, 259 Conn. at 737-38. Moreover, treatises
distinguish between an employer's liability under § 46a-60(a)(1) and an individual's liability under
§ 46a-60(a)(5). See, e.g., "Aiding and Abetting," 14 Conn. Prac., Employment Law § 7:15
("[A]ccording to statutory construction, where the persons clause is omitted from § 46a-60(a)(1) but
included in § 46a-60(a)(5), the legislature intended to expose individuals to liability under
§ 46a-60(a)(5) but not under § 46a-60(a)(1))" (emphasis added)).
The case at bar presented the unusual circumstance where a third-party corporate entity
allegedly "aided and abetted" discrimination by the employers during its "involve[ment] in
providing HR [human resources] and management services to them." Doc. 150-2, at 3. The
See, e.g., Cintron v. Atticus Bakery, LLC, 242 F. Supp. 3d 94, 107 (D. Conn. 2017) ("[A]
plaintiff may seek recovery from individual . . . employees for illegally aiding and abetting
discrimination against him, should he choose to file an independent lawsuit or to join those parties
as defendants to [his or her] action.") (quoting Farrar v. Town Of Stratford, 537 F. Supp. 2d 332,
356 (D. Conn. 2008)). See also, e.g., Spiotti v. Town of Wolcott, No. 3:04-cv-01442 (CFD), 2008
WL 596175, at *1 n. 1 (D. Conn. Feb. 20, 2008) ("Individual liability remains possible under Conn.
Gen. Stat. § 46a-60(a)(5) (aiding and abetting) . . ."); Edwards v. New Opportunities Inc., No.
3:05-cv-1238 (JCH), 2006 WL 1668020, at *2 (D. Conn. June 16, 2006) ("[I]ndividual defendants,
even if not employers, may be liable for violations of Connecticut General Statutes section[ ]
discriminatory aiding and abetting allegedly occurred through the actions of the third-party's
employees as they performed these HR tasks to assist Plaintiff's employers.
Upon review of Plaintiff's newly presented statutory provision, incorporating the general
CHRO definition of "person" to include corporate entities in the aiding and abetting provision of
former § 46a-60(a)(5), which is currently subsection (b)(5), the Court finds that VantagePoint's
composition as a corporate entity does not in and of itself render Plaintiff's Count Ten "futile," as
that term is used in Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).
Alternatively, the Court noted in its prior ruling that the allegations regarding VantagePoint
employees failed to indicate the extent to which these parties were warranted to act on behalf of
VantagePoint. Doc. 210, at 25-25 n. 15. In other words, VantagePoint employees Sue Prior and
Benjamin Albert were described as "representatives" without further facts to demonstrate that
VantagePoint granted them authority to take the alleged discriminatory actions against Plaintiff.
In this motion, however, Plaintiff now submits that it can be "reasonably infer[red]" that
VantagePoint employees Sue Prior and Albert Benjamin had such authority because they "provid[ed]
HR and management services to medical practices," so that "higher level employees would be
working with the clients." Doc. 211-1, at 3. Plaintiff alleges that Sue Prior was "a VantagePoint
representative" who acted on behalf of the Stamford Hospital Defendants and SAS. Doc. 150-2,
at 20 (¶84). She also asserts that Attorney Benjamin Albert was "an employee of VantagePoint
HealthCare Advisors." Id., at 11 (¶ 45). Based on Prior's and Albert's activities in the context of
Human Resources, Plaintiff states that VantagePoint recognized them as its representatives in
assisting Stamford Hospital and SAS. In view of these representations and allegations, the Court
reads the Complaint liberally to find that Prior and Albert allegedly acted for VantagePoint and
participated in some of the meetings, investigations, and decisions that ultimately led to Plaintiff's
allegedly discriminatory termination.
In light of the newly presented legal authorities, and accepting all factual claims in the
complaint as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in the Plaintiff’s favor, In re Kingate Mgmt.
Ltd. Litig., 784 F.3d 128, 135 n.11 (2d Cir. 2015), the Court finds that Plaintiff may include Count
Ten for aiding and abetting against VantagePoint in her Revised Amended Complaint.
B. Count Fourteen - Aiding and Abetting - CFEPA - Stamford Hospital
As discussed supra, Plaintiff now points to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-51 to support her
argument that the legislature intended to incorporate its general CHRO definition of "person" to
include corporate entities in former § 46a-60(a)(5), the aiding and abetting provision. Accepting that
an aiding and abetting claim against a corporate entity may proceed, Plaintiff's claim is not excluded
on the ground that it is a corporate entity.
The Court had also found that Count Fourteen may be problematic because "an individual
employee may be held liable for aiding and abetting his employer's discrimination, but an employer
cannot be liable for aiding and abetting its own discriminatory conduct." Farrar v. Town of Stratford,
537 F.Supp.2d 332, 356 (D.Conn. 2008)(citation and internal quotation marks omitted) , aff'd, F.
App'x 47 (2d Cir. 2010). "Thus, a plaintiff may seek recovery from individual . . . employees for
illegally aiding and abetting discrimination against him, should he choose to file an independent
lawsuit or to join those parties as defendants to this action. His remedy for the [employer's] conduct,
however, lies in the direct claims of discrimination he has raised in . . . his complaint. [The
employer] cannot have discriminated against him and, at the same time, aided and abetted itself in
discrimination against him." Id. at 356-57 (citation omitted).
If it is accepted that Stamford Hospital was the employer of Plaintiff, then it follows that
Stamford Hospital cannot have discriminated against the Plaintiff and, at the same time, aided and
abetted itself in discriminating against her. Plaintiff staunchly alleges that Stamford Hospital was
her employer and that it discriminated against her.6
Therefore, Plaintiff cannot as a matter of law allege that Stamford Hospital aided and abetted
discrimination with its own employees, Mancino and Coady. However, to the extent that Plaintiff
claims that Stamford Hospital aided and abetted her employer SAS in discriminating against her, that
claim is now plausible. Moreover, the other individual whose conduct Plaintiff asserts gives rise to
Plaintiff's claim in Count Fourteen is Sharon Kiely, Chief Medical Officer of Stamford Hospital,
who allegedly interacted with Theresa Bowling of SAS to take discriminatory measures against
Plaintiff on a number of occasions. As to these allegations – aiding and abetting discriminatory
practices of SAS – this claim states a plausible claim. Reading the Complaint in the light most
favorable to Plaintiff, Plaintiff may include a claim for "aiding and abetting" against Stamford
Hospital for assisting employer SAS to engage in discriminatory and retaliatory conduct against
Plaintiff in violation of the CFEPA. Doc. 150-2, at 66 (¶ 193). Count Fourteen may be included
in Plaintiff's Revised Amended Complaint.
Plaintiff is put on notice that because this claim is contingent upon her success in proving
discrimination by employer SAS, should that claim against SAS fail, this "aiding and abetting claim"
will no longer be viable and will automatically be subject to dismissal. See, e.g., Jones v. Gem
In fact, Plaintiff expressly "realleges and incorporates by reference" all of the paragraphs
in which she alleges that Stamford Hospital was, at all relevant times, her employer, Doc. 150-2,
at 66 (¶¶ 1-156), and as such, discriminated against her based on sex and physical disabilities. See,
e.g., id., at 18 (¶ 73), at 39 (¶ 158), at 40 (¶ 158), at 40 (¶ 157).
Chevrolet, 166 F. Supp. 2d 647, 651 (D. Conn. 2001). Plaintiff is left to her proof regarding
discrimination by SAS. Plaintiff is also left to her proof, and the ultimate resolution, of the factual
and legal identity of Plaintiff's employer – SAS and/or Stamford Hospital – within the context of
the governing statutes.
C. CHRO Application to File An Amicus Curiae Memorandum
In seeking leave to file an amicus curiae memorandum, the CHRO has stated that its sole
interest in filing such a brief is the "interpretation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-60(a)(5)," specifically
that "Vantage Point, as a corporate entity, is not a covered entity under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a60(a)(5)." Doc. 212, at 4. The CHRO has clarified that its interest in seeking to file a brief is
"narrowly confined" to assisting the Court with that interpretation; and "CHRO's position is neutral
regarding any other issues presented." Doc. 212, at 1 n. 1.
The Court notes that the CHRO
mentions only "Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-60(a)(5)," but that provision was replaced by the legislature
as § 46a-60(b)(5) when the statute was amended in 2017. Given the date her action arose, Plaintiff
cited this provision as "§ 46a-60(a)(5)" so that the CHRO may have mirrored her pre-amendment
citation with reference to her case. See Doc. 150-2, at 53 (¶ 161) ("Defendant VantagePoint’s
conduct gives rise to an aiding and abetting claim under § 46a-60(a)(5) of the Connecticut General
In any event, because the Court herein has granted reconsideration in this Ruling and
incorporated "person" to include a corporate entity in former § 46a-60(a)(5) (prohibiting
discriminatory aiding and abetting), pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-51(14), the Court grants the
CHRO's motion [Doc. 212] to file such a brief on the docket if the CHRO needs to further clarify
its position on § 46a-60(a)(5) following this ruling.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration [Doc.
211] and grants leave for Plaintiff to add Counts Ten and Fourteen into her revised amended
complaint. Plaintiff must file and serve her Revised Amended Complaint on or before April 27,
2018. Due to Count Ten, the Clerk is instructed to reinstate VantagePoint as a defendant on the case
docket in this action.
The foregoing is So Ordered.
Dated: New Haven, Connecticut
April 11, 2018
/s/Charles S. Haight, Jr.
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR.
Senior United States District Judge
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