United States District Court, D. Connecticut
B. FITZSIMMONS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
action was commenced pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, in
February 2003, by the State Employees Bargaining Agent
Coalition (“SEBAC”), a collation of 13 public
employee unions that represent approximately 49, 000
Connecticut state employees; 12 of SEBAC's 13 constituent
labor unions; and five individual union members. The Amended
Complaint asserted claims against then-Governor of the State
of Connecticut John G. Rowland, and the then-Secretary of
Connecticut's Office of Policy and Management Mark S.
Ryan, in both their official and individual capacities. It
alleged that defendants had intentionally violated
plaintiffs' constitutional rights to freedom of speech,
freedom of association, due process and equal protection of
the law under the First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to
the United States Constitution by ordering that 3, 000 union
members be terminated from their jobs in retaliation for the
unions' exercise of their First and Fourteenth Amendment
rights to freedom of association and freedom of speech and
the unions' refusal to forego certain statutorily
protected contract rights. Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint
sough declaratory and injunctive relief and money damages.
Years of litigation ensued. In December 2013, the parties
pursued settlement discussions resulting in the settlement of
Settlement Order and Final Judgment was entered by the Court
(Covello, J.) on October 1, 2015. [Doc. #296]. The Settlement
Agreement provided for both noneconomic compensatory damages
to all members of the class and economic damages to class
members who sustained economic damages resulting from the
subject layoffs. To date, noneconomic compensatory damage
awards have been paid to virtually all of the over 49, 000
class members and the parties are now engaged in the process
of calculating economic damages for nearly 3, 000 class
members who may be entitled to them. The parties are
currently scheduling evidentiary hearings, beginning in
October 2016, to determine economic damages.
advance of the evidentiary hearing, the parties seek the
Court's consideration of the following four
The Meaning of the Term “As of November 17,
first question presented is whether an individual had to be
employed by the State on November 17, 2002, in order to be a
class member. The parties identified only two employees,
Linda Almquist and DeBree Robinson, who were offered
employment prior to November 17, 2002, but began working for
the state shortly after that date. Both employees were laid
off in January 2003.
Settlement Agreement contains a definition of the term
“Class Members”, which includes five subclasses.
Each description of a subclass begins with the phrase,
“[a]ll individuals who were employees of the State of
Connecticut as of November 17, 2002 ....” The
Settlement Order and Final Judgment Approving Settlement
defines the class in identical terms. [Settl. Agreement
§2 (D)(a)-(e); Doc. #296, ¶3(a)-(e)]. Likewise, the
plaintiffs' Amended Complaint at page 8 specifically
alleges that the affected employee class “consists of
all individual a) who were employees of the State of
Connecticut as of November 17, 2002 ....” [Doc. #52-1
November 17, 2002 was the first date Governor Rowland made
any public mention of demanding concessions from the unions
and of threatening layoffs if the concessions were not
granted. No state employee actually suffered any adverse
employment action on November 17, 2002-layoff notices did not
actually go out on November 17, 2002 and no state employee
was laid off, bumped or demoted, or suffered other adverse
job impact on November 17, 2002 (which was a Sunday).
Plaintiffs submit that the State's contention that only
individuals employed “as of” November 17, 2002
are covered by the settlement-while a literally feasible
interpretation of the Settlement Order and Judgment-makes no
practical sense. The purpose of the settlement is to
compensate union members for their economic loss resulting
from the layoff orders, and there is no rational basis to
provide relief for some and exclude others who were adversely
affected by layoff orders.
Let. dated 7/5/16 at §1]. Plaintiffs argue that,
“[i]t is the fact of the adverse action taken against
the employee pursuant to Governor Rowland's orders-not
the date the employee first entered into state
employment-that is the determinative fact for class
membership purposes.” Id.
argue that the only rational interpretation of the term
“as of November 17, 2002” is that an employee
must have been employed by the state on that date in order to
be included in the class.
letter offering employment to Ms. Almquist was dated November
14, 2002, providing a start date of November 18, 2002. The
offer letter was signed and accepted by her on November 18,
2002, with an “effective” date November 18, 2002.
See Trainor Let. 11/14/02. Ms. Almquist was laid off on
January 28, 2003.
offer letter to Ms. Robinson was dated November 15, 2002,
providing a start date of November 20, 2002. See Bunt Let.
11/15/02. A payroll services record for Ms. Robinson shows
that she was laid-off on January 17, 2003. See
UC-61. These are the only two employees