United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
W. EGINTON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
an employment discrimination action. Plaintiff Oliver
Wellington alleges that defendant Norwalk Hospital
discriminated against him based upon his age, religion, and
gender in violation of federal and Connecticut law. In
addition, Wellington alleges defamation and negligent
infliction of emotional distress.
Hospital has moved to dismiss the state law discrimination
claims (Counts Four, Five, and Six) for failure to exhaust
administrative remedies. The Hospital has also moved to
dismiss Wellington's defamation and negligent infliction
of emotional distress claims (Counts Seven and Eight) for
failure to state a claim. For the following reasons,
defendant's motion will be granted.
function of a motion to dismiss is “merely to assess
the legal feasibility of the complaint, not to assay the
weight of the evidence which might be offered in support
thereof.” Ryder Energy Distrib. v. Merrill Lynch
Commodities, Inc., 748 F.2d 774, 779 (2d Cir. 1984).
When deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept all
well-pleaded allegations as true and draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the pleader. Hishon v. King,
467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984). The complaint must contain the
grounds upon which the claim rests through factual
allegations sufficient “to raise a right to relief
above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A plaintiff is
obliged to amplify a claim with some factual allegations to
allow the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the alleged conduct. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
of Administrative Remedies
Hospital argues that Wellington's state discrimination
claims are not legally sustainable, as Wellington failed to
exhaust his administrative remedies and obtain a release of
jurisdiction from the Commission on Human Rights and
Opportunities (“CHRO”). Moreover, defendant
asserts that any attempt to do so now would be untimely.
Wellington acknowledges the exhaustion requirement, yet
responds, without support, that an EEOC release “should
be sufficient” to provide jurisdiction for state law
claims even though no CHRO release has been filed.
Under our exhaustion of administrative remedies doctrine, a
trial court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over an action
that seeks a remedy that could be provided through an
administrative proceeding, unless and until that remedy has
been sought in the administrative forum.... In the absence of
exhaustion of that remedy, the action must be dismissed.
Levine v. Town of Sterling, 300 Conn. 521, 528
(2011). In the instant case, Wellington's failure to
bring his complaint to the CHRO forecloses his access to
judicial relief, because it deprives this trial court of
jurisdiction to hear his complaint. See Sullivan v. Board
of Police Com'rs of City of Waterbury, 196
Conn. 208, 217-18 (1985) (finding that failure to bring
complaint to the CHRO should have resulted in trial
court's sua sponte dismissal of the cause of
action); see also Fried v. LVI Services, Inc., 557
Fed.Appx. 61, 63 (2d Cir. 2014) (summary order) (“It is
undisputed that CFEPA claims must initially go through the
CHRO, and may not be sued upon until the CHRO grants a
release of jurisdiction.”). Moreover, an EEOC
right-to-sue letter is not sufficient to satisfy the
exhaustion requirements of the CFEPA. See Edwards v.
William Raveis Real Estate, Inc., 2009 WL 1407233, at
*3-4 (D. Conn. May 19, 2009) (holding that although release
provided by the CHRO can be sufficient to satisfy EEOC
exhaustion requirements, the inverse is not true).
Accordingly, Wellington's state law discrimination claims
will be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative
Hospital has moved to dismiss Wellington's defamation
claim for failure to state a claim. The Hospital contends
that Wellington has failed to adequately plead the details of
any alleged defamatory conduct.
defamatory statement is defined as a communication that tends
to harm the reputation of another as to lower him in the
estimation of the community or to deter third persons from
associating or dealing with him ... To establish a prima
facie case of defamation, the plaintiff must demonstrate
that: (1) the defendant published a defamatory statement; (2)
the defamatory statement identified the plaintiff to a third
person; (3) the defamatory statement was published to a third
person; and (4) the plaintiff's reputation suffered
injury as a result of the statement.” Graves v.
Chronicle Printing Company, 2018 WL 6264070, at *9
(Conn. Nov. 7, 2018) (quoting Gambardella v. Apple Health
Care, Inc., 291 Conn. 620, 627-28 (2009)).
complaint is insufficient to withstand dismissal for failure
to state a cause of action where, other than the bare
allegation that the defendant's actions caused injury to
plaintiff's reputation, the complaint sets forth no facts
of any kind indicating what defamatory statements, if any,
were made, when they were made, or to whom they might have
been made.” Kloth v. Citibank (South Dakota),
N.A., 33 F.Supp.2d 115, 121 (D. Conn. 1998).
responds that his allegations of defamation
“sufficiently apprise” Norwalk Hospital as to the
defamatory statements. Nevertheless, Wellington's
defamation claim, as pleaded, fails to identify who made
statements, how they were made, to whom they were made, and
when they were made. Moreover, plaintiff's complaint does
not include the specific language of any statements, beyond
that Wellington “had made a ...