Connecticut Supreme Court Rejects Workers' Claim for Lost Wages due to Power Plant Explosion

December 9, 2015

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In a decision to be released on November 24, 2015 in the consolidated appeals of Lawrence v. O and G Industries, et al and Beamer v. O and G Industries, et al, the Connecticut Supreme Court re-affirmed the long settled rule that a plaintiff cannot recover purely economic damages in a tort action absent physical harm to person or property or privity of contract with the tortfeasor.

The plaintiffs were employed at the Kleen Energy power plant, which was significantly damaged in an explosion during the course of a large construction project.  The employees sued the general contractor and numerous subcontractors on the project, claiming that their negligence caused the explosion and, as a result, caused them to lose wages when the power plant was closed.  The trial court agreed that the plaintiffs’ losses were a foreseeable result of the explosion; however, it granted the defendants’ motion to strike on the basis that the defendants did not owe the plant employees any legal duty. The court based its determination on  public policy reasons, relying on the four factor test articulated in Jaworski v. Kiernan, 241 Conn. 399, 404 (1997).  The four factors include:  (1) the normal expectations of the participants in the activity under review; (2) the public policy of encouraging participation in the activity, while weighing the safety of the participants; (3) the avoidance of increased litigation; and (4) decisions of other jurisdictions in similar circumstances.  (read more)