Lavette v. Stanley Black & Decker, Inc.

2022 | Cited 0 times | Connecticut Appellate Court | June 28, 2022

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The syllabus and procedural history accompanying the opinion as it appears in the Connecticut Law Journal and bound volumes of official reports are copyrighted by the Secretary of the State, State of Connecticut, and may not be reproduced and distributed without the express written permission of the Commission on Official Legal Publica- tions, Judicial Branch, State of Connecticut. *********************************************** HENRY LAVETTE III v. STANLEY BLACK & DECKER, INC. (AC 44465) Bright, C. J., and Alexander and Lavine, Js. Syllabus The plaintiff employee sought to recover damages from the defendant employerforpersonalinjurieshesustainedwhileworkingforthedefen- dant. In his complaint, the plaintiff, whose employment duties included painting, alleged, inter alia, that, although he was initially provided a respiratorby anotheremployee toprevent excessiveinhalationof toxic chemicals from the paint he used, after about one month, D, the defen- dant'ssafety manager,informed theplaintiffthat hewas notauthorized to use the respirator in the workplace. The plaintiff further alleged that the defendant had deliberately instructed him to continue to paint in known dangerous conditions, the defendant was aware that his injuries were substantially certain to result from its action, and it had engaged inwilfulandseriousmisconduct.The defendantfiledamotiontostrike with prejudice on the ground that the plaintiff's claim was barred by the exclusivity provision (§31-284) of the Workers' Compensation Act (act) (§31-275 et seq.), which provides that the act is the exclusive remedy for employees injured in most instances, because the plaintiff failedtoallegesufficientfactsthatDwasthedefendant'salteregosuch that the defendant could be held liable for D's tortious conduct, and, alternatively,D'sactions didnotconstituteintentional misconduct.The trial court granted the defendant's motion to strike, concluding that the plaintiff's complaint did not state a legally sufficient cause of action thatfellwithintheintentionaltortexceptiontotheexclusivityprovision of the act.In its memorandum of decision, thecourt concluded that the plaintiffdidnotallegethelevelofcontrolrequiredbytheinstrumentality rule or the unity of ownership interest required by the identity rule to disregard the defendant's corporate structure, but merely attempted to impose liability on the defendant for the alleged intentional acts of D, as a supervisor, on the basis of her apparent authority to act on the defendant'sbehalf.Thecourtgrantedthemotiontostrikewithprejudice, reasoning that the claim had been stricken multiple times and it was clear that the plaintiff was unable to cure the legal insufficiencies in the allegations. On the plaintiff's appeal to this court, held that the trial court properly granted the defendant's motion to strike with prejudice, the plaintiff having failed to plead that D was the defendant's alter ego such that D's alleged intentional torts could be attributed to the defen- dant to pierce the corporate veil and fall within the exception to the exclusivity provision of the act: the plaintiff's allegations simply estab- lished D's control was typical of any corporate safety manager and did not rise to the level of alter ego status to disregard the defendant's corporate structure, the plaintiff's allegations having failed to meet the stringent alter ego test, which requires that the corporation have no separate existence from the alter ego who controls and dominates the corporation'sbusinessaffairs,astheplaintiff'sallegationthatDcreated a policy regarding the use of respirators did not establish the requisite level of control over the defendant; moreover, this court declined to reviewtheplaintiff'sargumentthatitshouldreconsideritsjurisprudence regarding the alter ego exception to the act's exclusivity provision with respect to larger corporations, as the plaintiff failed to raise this argu- ment before the trial court and raised it for the first time to this court in his reply brief; furthermore, although our Supreme Court in Patel v. Flexo Converters, U.S.A., Inc. (309 Conn. 52), reasoned that a plaintiff alleging an intentional tort directly committed or authorized by the employer was not required to prove that the actor was the employer's alter ego,this courtdeclined toconsider theapplicability ofthat excep- tion to the exclusivity provision of the act, as the plaintiff did not allege or argue that an intentional tort had been directly committed or authorized by the defendant. Argued January 10±officially released June 28, 2022 Procedural History Action to recover damages for personal injuries sus- tained by the plaintiff as a result of the defendant's alleged wilfulmisconduct, and for otherrelief, brought totheSuperiorCourtinthejudicialdistrictofHartford, where the court, Noble, J., granted the defendant's motion to strike with prejudice, and the plaintiff appealed to this court; thereafter, the court, Noble, J., granted the plaintiff's motion for judgment and ren- deredjudgmentforthedefendant,andtheplaintifffiled an amended appeal. Affirmed. James F. Sullivan, for the appellant (plaintiff). Nicholas N. Ouellette, with whom, on the brief, was Samuel N. Rosengren, for the appellee (defendant). Opinion ALEXANDER, J. The plaintiff, Henry Lavette III, a former employee of the defendant, Stanley Black & Decker, Inc., appeals from the judgment of the trial court, rendered in favor of the defendant following the court's decision to strike count one of his fourth amended complaint with prejudice. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly concluded that he had failed to allege sufficient facts to establish thathisclaimcamewithintheintentionaltortexception totheexclusivityprovisionoftheWorkers'Compensa- tion Act (act), General Statutes §31-275 et seq. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court. Thefollowingfacts,asallegedintheplaintiff'sfourth amended complaint and construed in the manner most favorabletosustainingitslegalsufficiency, 1 andproce- duralhistoryarerelevanttoourdiscussion.Onorabout September 2, 2014, the defendant hired the plaintiff as a``storeattendant''andhisessentialemploymentduties included painting by brush and by spray. Initially, another employee provided the plaintiff with a respira- tor to prevent excessive inhalation of toxic chemicals from the paint. After approximately one month, how- ever, Kim Derin, the defendant's safety manager, informed the plaintiff that he was not authorized to use the respirator in the workplace. The plaintiff then developed symptoms from his exposure to the paint, such as pain, nausea, diarrhea, and headaches. His symptoms worsened over time. OnoraboutJuly9,2015,theplaintiffinformedDerin that ``he was continuously getting headaches, feeling nauseous and experiencing shortness of breath from painting at work . . . .'' Derin never responded to the plaintiff regarding his health issues. In January, 2016, the plaintiff reported that he was feeling ``violently ill'' but was reluctant to file a union grievance concerning the hazardous conditions due to a fear of being ``tar- geted'' by other employees and supervisors. The use of a different brand of paint did not relieve or ameliorate the plaintiff's symptoms. On or about February 28, 2016, the plaintiff ``became extremely ill including excessive vomiting and diar- rhea.'' His symptoms did not improve and a few days later he experienced dizziness and cloudy vision. He was hospitalized overnight and returned to work a few days later. The plaintiff worked only one day between February 28, 2016, and March 17, 2016. The plaintiff filed a complaint with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 2 which led to an investigation of the defendant and fines exceeding $35,000. The defendant terminated the plaintiff's employment on or about January 20, 2017. Theplaintiffcommencedthisactionand,inhisopera- tive fourth amended complaint, alleged that the defen- dant ``deliberately instructed the plaintiff to continue to paint in what [was known] to be dangerous condi- tions.''Hefurtherclaimedthatthedefendantwasaware thathisinjuriesweresubstantiallycertaintooccurand engaged in wilful and serious misconduct. As a result of this misconduct, the plaintiff purportedly suffered ``injuries including nausea, long-term headaches, sharp pain and cramps in his legs, excessive shortness of breath, diarrhea, and overall pain and fatigue in his body, [as well as] emotional distress and concerns for his overall well-being.'' 3 On April 20, 2020, the defendant moved to strike count one of the plaintiff's fourth amended complaint with prejudice. In the attached memorandum of law, the defendant argued that the plaintiff had failed to allege sufficient facts that Derin was the ``alter ego'' of the defendant and, in the alternative, that her actions did not constitute intentional misconduct. 4 It further argued that without a sufficiently pleaded alter ego theory,theplaintiff'sactionwaslegallyinsufficientdue to the exclusivity provision of the act, 5 and, therefore, the court should grant its motion to strike with preju- dice. The plaintiff filed his objection to the defendant's motion to strike on May 26, 2020. The court conducted a remote hearing on September 28, 2020. On December 8, 2020, the court issued a memoran- dum of decision granting the defendant's motion to strike count one ofthe plaintiff's fourth amended com- plaint with prejudice. At the outset of its analysis, the court summarized the arguments of the parties as fol- lows: ``The first issue to be addressed is whether the plaintiffallegessufficientfactsinthe[fourthamended] complainttosubjecttheclaimincountonetotheinten- tionaltortexception[totheexclusivityprovisionofthe act found in] §31-284 (a). The defendant argues that the plaintiff fails to allege sufficient facts to establish [Derin's] . . . alter ego status, [and] thus fails to bring the claim in count one within the ambit of the inten- tionaltortexception.Theplaintiffdisagreesbypointing totheallegationthatDerinhadcompleteandfinalcon- trol over the removal of the plaintiff's respirator, [and] therefore,isthealteregoofthedefendantwithrespect tothisspecifictransaction,satisfyingtheinstrumental- ity rule for piercing the corporate veil.'' CitingtoJettv.Dunlap,179Conn.215,219,425A.2d 1263 (1979), the court first noted the limited nature of thealteregointentionaltortexceptiontotheexclusivity provisionoftheact,whichprovidesthat,ifanassailant employee is of such a rank in the corporation so as to be considered its alter ego, then the corporation may be assigned responsibility for the assailant employee's conduct. Next, the court, citing to Patel v. Flexo Con- verters U.S.A., Inc., 309 Conn. 52, 58, 68 A.3d 1162 (2013), observed that this stringent exception does not impose liability on the corporation for the intentional acts of supervisors based on their apparent authority to act on behalf of their employer. The court then summarized the relevant allegations inthefourthamendedcomplaint.``[T]heplaintiffalleges thatDerinhadtheauthoritytomakeandcontrolpolicy forthedefendantregardingsafetyprocedures,andhad the `complete and final authority' with respect to the removal of the plaintiff's respirator. . . . The plaintiff furtherallegesthatwhenDerinexercisedherauthority to remove the [plaintiff's respirator], she `bound the defendanttoherdecisionsothat,atthetime,thedefen- dant had no separate mind, will or existence of its own.''' (Citations omitted.) With respect to the first allegation concerning Derin, the court concluded that this description established nothing more than the dutiesofanycorporatesafetymanager.Astothelatter allegation, the court determined that it lacked legal significance because a motion to strike does not admit legal conclusions or the accuracy or truth of the opin- ions stated. ``The plaintiff alleges no specific fact[s] to substantiate his proposition that the defendant . . . ha[s] no separate mind, will or existence of its own with respect to the removal of the respirator. . . . Fur- thermore . . . it is not alleged . . . that Derin . . . has any ownership interest in the defendant or that the defendant does not properly maintain corporate formalities. . . . Overall, the plaintiff alleges neither thelevelofcontrolrequiredbytheinstrumentalityrule nor the unity of ownership interest required by the identityrule,butmerelyattemptstoimposeliabilityon the employer for the intentional acts of supervisors on thebasisofapparentauthoritytoactontheemployer's behalf.'' (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) The court subsequently granted the motion to strike this count with prejudice because it had been stricken multipletimes and``it isclear thatthe plaintiff cannotcurethelegalinsufficienciesintheallegations.'' Thereafter, the plaintiff filed a motion for judgment, whichthecourtgrantedonJanuary8,2021. 6 Thisappeal followed. Additional facts will be set forth as needed. Onappeal,theplaintiffclaimsthatthecourtimprop- erlygrantedthedefendant'smotiontostrikecountone ofthefourthamendedcomplaintwithprejudice.Specif- ically, he argues that the facts pleaded ``clearly [allege that] . . . Derin had the complete and final authority regarding whether the plaintiff could use a respirator while painting'' and that these allegations were suffi- cienttosatisfythealteregoexceptiontotheexclusivity provision of the act. The plaintiff further contends that thecourterredinconcludingthattheallegationsregard- ing Derin constituted a legal conclusion. We are not persuaded. We begin our analysis by setting forth our standard of review and the relevant legal principles. ``The stan- dard of review in an appeal challenging a trial court's granting of a motion to strike is well established. A motion to strike challenges the legal sufficiency of a pleading, and, consequently, requires no factual find- ings by the trial court. As a result, our review of the court's ruling is plenary. . . . We take the facts to be those alleged in the complaint that has been stricken and we construe the complaint in the manner most favorable to sustaining its legal sufficiency. . . . Thus, [i]f facts provable in the complaint would support a cause of action, the motion to strike must be denied.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Sieranski v. TJC Esq,AProfessionalServicesCorp., 203 Conn. App. 75, 81, 247 A.3d 201 (2021); see also Karagozian v. USV Optical, Inc., 335 Conn. 426, 433±34, 238 A.3d 716 (2020).Additionally,wenotethat``[w]hatisnecessarily implied[inanallegation]neednotbeexpresslyalleged. . . . It is fundamental that in determining the suffi- ciency of a complaint challenged by a [defendant's] motion to strike, all well-pleaded facts and those facts necessarily implied from the allegations are taken as admitted. . . . Indeed, pleadings must be construed broadlyandrealistically,ratherthannarrowlyandtech- nically.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Piccolo v. American Auto Sales, LLC, 195 Conn. App. 486, 490, 225 A.3d 961 (2020). Next, we set forth the relevant principles regarding our workers' compensation jurisprudence. ``The pur- poseofthe[act]istocompensatetheworkerforinjuries arisingoutofandinthecourseofemployment,without regard to fault, by imposing a form of strict liability on the employer . . . . [The act] compromise[s] an employee's right to a [common-law] tort action for [work-related]injuriesinreturnforrelativelyquickand certaincompensation.''(Internalquotationmarksomit- ted.) Dominguez v. New York Sports Club, 198 Conn. App. 854, 859, 234 A.3d 1017 (2020); see also Jones v. Connecticut Children's Medical Center Faculty Prac- tice Plan, 131 Conn. App. 415, 422±23, 28 A.3d 347 (2011). General Statutes §31-284 (a) 7 sets forth the relevant aspects of theexclusivity provision of theact, and pro- vides that workers' compensation payments are the exclusive source of remedy against an injured employ- ee's employer in most instances. Mariano v. Hartland Building & Restoration Co., 168 Conn. App. 768, 778, 148 A.3d 229 (2016); see also Motzer v. Haberli, 300 Conn. 733, 743±44, 15 A.3d 1084 (2011). Specifically, our Supreme Court has stated that ``where a worker's personalinjuryiscoveredbytheact,statutorycompen- sation is the sole remedy and recovery in common-law tort against the employer is barred.'' Jett v. Dunlap, supra,179Conn.217;seealsoDriscollv.GeneralNutri- tion Corp., 252 Conn. 215, 221, 752 A.2d 1069 (2000). Thereis,however,anexceptiontotheact'sexclusiv- ity. If a plaintiff can demonstrate that his injury was theresult ofan intentionaltort 8 thatwascommitted by his employer, then the corporation is subject to com- mon-lawtortliability.SeeSuarezv.DickmontPlastics Corp., 242 Conn. 255, 274, 698 A.2d 838 (1997); Perille v. Raybestos-Manhattan-Europe, Inc., 196 Conn. 529, 532±33, 494 A.2d 555 (1985); Jett v. Dunlap, supra, 179 Conn. 217±18. Our Supreme Court has recognized two different waysforanemployeetoallegeandproveanintentional tort. In Jett v. Dunlap, supra, 179 Conn. 218, our SupremeCourtfirstexplainedthatanemployercannot rely upon the exclusivity of the act if it intentionally directed or authorized its employee to strike another employee. Next, after noting a distinction between an assault directly committed or authorized by an employer and an unauthorized assault committed by an employee, the court turned to the question of whetherthatemployeewasthealteregoofthecorpora- tion such that the employer should be held liable for the employee'stortious conduct. Id., 218±19.The court in Jett reasoned that if the assailant is of such a rank in the corporation so as to be deemed its alter ego, under standards governing disregard of the corporate entity, it was appropriate for the corporation to bear reasonabilityforthatactor'sunauthorizedconduct.Id., 219. Jett did not, however, extend corporate liability for the conduct of an assailant to mere supervisors or foremen. Id. In summary, the court in Jett concluded: ``If the assailant can be identified as the alter ego of the corporation, or the corporation has directed or authorized the assault, then the corporation may be liable in common-law tort; if the assailant is only another employee who cannot be so identified, then the strict liability remedies provided by the [act] are exclusive and cannot be supplemented with common- law damages.'' Id. Our Supreme Court subsequently revisited this exception to the act's exclusivity provision in Suarez v. Dickmont Plastics Corp., supra, 242 Conn. 255. In that case, the trial court had instructed the jury that the intentional actions of an employee could be attrib- uted to the corporate defendant if that employee had apparent authority to act on the corporation's behalf or was its alter ego. Id., 272. On appeal, our Supreme Court reviewed and applied the analysis from Jett v. Dunlap, supra, 197 Conn. 218±19, and concluded that the assailant must be of such a rank in the corporation tobedeemeditsalteregounderthestandardgoverning the disregard of the corporate entity. Suarez v. Dick- montPlasticsCorp.,supra,273±75.Itfurthernotedthat to overcome the act's exclusivity provision, both the actions producing the injury and the resulting actions must have been intentional or substantially certain to have occurred. Id., 280. In the present case, the plaintiff consistently has relied on its allegations that Derin acted as the alter egoofthedefendantandcommittedanintentionaltort. Consequently, we turn to our Supreme Court's most recent discussion of that specific exception to the act in Patel v. Flexo Converters, U.S.A., Inc., supra, 309 Conn. 52. In Patel, the employee challenged the sum- mary judgment rendered in favor of the employer with respect to his action to recover damages for personal injuries that resulted from the alleged intentional mis- conduct by a fellow employee. Id., 53±54. The disposi- tive issue in Patel was whether the trial court properly concludedthatnogenuineissueofmaterialfactexisted asto whetherthe fellowemployee's positionasa night supervisor made him the defendant's alter ego. Id., 55± 57. Our Supreme Court, citing to Jett v. Dunlap, supra, 179 Conn. App. 219, iterated the narrow exception to the exclusivity provision of the act for intentional torts committed by the alter ego of a corporation. Patel v. Flexo Converters, U.S.A., Inc., supra, 309 Conn. 57. It emphasized that this exception does not apply to supervisory employees but only an alter ego of the corporation. Id., 57±58. Our Supreme Court explained: ``The alter ego test is stringent. The supervisory employeeallegedtohaveintentionallyinjuredtheplain- tiffmustbetheemployer'salteregounderthestandards governing disregard of the corporate entity . . . a test correspondingtotherequirementsforpiercingthecor- porate veil. The concept of piercing the corporate veil is equitable in nature. . . . No hard and fast rule . . . as to the conditions under which the entity may be disregardedcanbestatedastheyvaryaccordingtothe circumstances of each case. . . . The standard requires that the corporation, functionally speaking, havenoseparateexistencefromthealteregowhocon- trolsanddominatesthecorporation'saffairs.Thealter ego test is therefore incompatible with imposing liabil- ity on the employer for the intentional acts of supervi- sors on the basis of apparent authority to act on the employer's behalf. . . . ``The alter ego test is functional, and a supervisory employee's title is not dispositive of the ultimate ques- tionofwhethertheemployee meetsthestandardsgov- erning disregard of the corporate entity . . . . In the contextofasmallfamilyownedcorporation,forexam- ple, a supervisor could sufficiently dominate and con- trol the corporation so as to justify liability under the alter ego theory.'' (Citations omitted; emphasis added; footnotes omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Id.,58±60;seealsoMelansonv.WestHartford,61Conn. App. 683, 690±91, 767 A.2d 764, cert. denied, 256 Conn. 904, 772 A.2d 995 (2001). The court also observed that, as noted in Jett v. Dunlap, supra, 179 Conn. 218, if a plaintiff alleged an intentional tort directly committed or authorized by the employer, he or she would not be required to prove that the actor was the employer's alterego.Patelv.FlexcoConvertersU.S.A.,Inc.,supra, 58 n.6. Our Supreme Court then described the two methods fordeterminingwhetheradefendant'scorporatestruc- turehas beendisregarded:theinstrumentality ruleand the identity rule. Id., 59 n.7. ``The instrumentality rule requires, in any case but an express agency, proof of three elements: (1) Control, not mere majority or com- plete stock control, but complete domination, not only of finances but of policy and business practice in respecttothetransactionattackedsothatthecorporate entityastothistransactionhadatthetimenoseparate mind,willorexistenceofitsown;(2)thatsuchcontrol musthavebeenusedbythedefendanttocommitfraud or wrong, to perpetrate the violation of a statutory or other positive legal duty, or a dishonest or unjust act in contravention of [the] plaintiff's legal rights; and (3) thattheaforesaidcontrolandbreachofdutymustprox- imately cause the injury or unjust loss complained of. . . . The identity rule has been stated as follows: If [the] plaintiff can show that there was such a unity of interest and ownership that the independence of the corporations had in effect ceased or had never begun, an adherence to the fiction of separate identity would serve only to defeat justice and equity by permitting theeconomic entityto escapeliability arisingoutof an operationconductedbyonecorporationforthebenefit of the whole enterprise.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Id.; see alsoHersey v.Lonrho,Inc., 73 Conn. App. 78, 87, 807 A.2d 1009 (2002). Withthisbackgroundinmind,weconsidertheexten- siveproceduralhistoryinthiscaseregardingtheplain- tiff's intentional tort claim to determine if the plaintiff pleaded sufficient facts to come within the intentional tortcommittedbyanalteregoexceptiontotheexclusiv- ity provision of the act. The plaintiff commenced this actiononMarch20,2017.Incountoneofhiscomplaint, theplaintiffallegedthatthedefendantdeliberatelyhad instructed him to continue to paint in what it knew to be dangerous conditions. He further claimed that the defendant was aware that his ``injuries were substan- tially certain to flow from [its] actions'' and had ``engagedinwilfulandseriousmisconduct.''Asaresult of this misconduct, the plaintiff purportedly suffered ``injuries including nausea, long-term headaches, sharp pain and cramps in his legs, excessive shortness of breath, diarrhea, and overall pain and fatigue in his body.'' 9 OnNovember5,2018,the defendantmovedtostrike countsoneandthreeoftheamendedcomplaint. 10 With respect to count one of the amended complaint, the defendant argued that the plaintiff failed to allege that theemployeescontrolledanddominatedthecorporate entity so as to constitute its alter ego. On November 30, 2018, the plaintiff filed a revised amended com- plaint. 11 Inanticipationofthefilingofanotheramended complaint, the court, on January 2, 2019, declined to rule on the defendant's motion to strike count one of the amended complaint, and granted the defendant's motion to strike with respect to count three. On February 7, 2019, the plaintiff filed a second revised complaint. On March 21, 2019, the defendant filed a motion to strike count one of the plaintiff's sec- ond revised complaint. In its accompanying memoran- dum of law, the defendant argued, inter alia, that the plaintiff had failed to allege sufficient facts that the employees identified in the second revised complaint controlled and dominated the defendant's business affairs so as to be deemed its alter ego. On April 18, 2019,theplaintifffiledhismemorandumoflawinoppo- sition tothe defendant'smotion tostrike. 12 OnSeptem- ber 17, 2019, the court issued a memorandum of deci- siongrantingthedefendant'smotiontostrike.Thecourt noted that the plaintiff had failed to ``cite any facts to buttress the claim that Derin . . . [was] the alter ego'' of the defendant or recite the elements of the tests used to determine whether the defendant's corporate structure had been disregarded. On October 2, 2019, the plaintiff filed his third amended complaint. In that pleading, the plaintiff alleged that Derin, as the defendant's safety manager, held ``a title of such rank as it is deemed as an alter ego of the defendant, and . . . Derin is so situated in the corporate structure as to bind the corporation.'' The defendant responded thirteen days later by filing a motion for judgment pursuant to Practice Book §10- 44, 13 or, in the alternative, to strike count one of the third amended complaint. The defendant argued that the plaintiff had not cured the pleading deficiencies in the second revised complaint that had been stricken bythecourt.Initsaccompanyingmemorandumoflaw, the defendant argued that the plaintiff still had failed toallegesufficientfactstosatisfyeithertheinstrumen- tality rule or the identity rule despite the inclusion of the job responsibilities of Derin and the assertion that herpositionwasofsucharanksoastobindthedefen- dant and to deem her as its alter ego. The plaintiff filed his objection to the motion for judgmentandthemotiontostrikeonOctober31,2019. Therein, he maintained that sufficient facts had been pleaded to satisfy the instrumentality rule and, there- fore,Derinwasthealteregoofthedefendant.Hefurther arguedthatthispleadingwassufficienttoestablishthat thedefendant,throughitsalterego,intentionallyacted in a way to cause the plaintiff's injuries and that those injuries were substantially certain to result from the defendant's conduct. OnMarch5,2020,thecourtissuedanorderindicating that it was granting the defendant's October 15, 2019 motion, which it treated as a motion to strike. In recounting the procedural history, the court com- mentedthatapriorpleadinghadbeenstrickenbecause theplaintiff'sbaldassertionregardingDerinasanalter egoofthedefendantwasinsufficienttobringhisclaim within the exception to the act's exclusivity provision. With respect to the third amended complaint, which added a description of employment duties for Derin's position, the court agreed with the defendant that despite these additions, the plaintiff had failed to set forth sufficient allegations to advance a claim for alter ego status pursuant to either the instrumentality rule or the identity rule. The court issued an order stating: ``The new allegations fail to allege facts sufficient to implicate alter ego status, and therefore the motion to strike the first count is granted.'' OnApril3,2020,theplaintifffiledhisfourthamended complaint. In that pleading, the plaintiff alleged the following: ``Derin . . . had the complete and final authority regarding whether the plaintiff could use a respirator while painting. . . . Derin exercised her authority and judgment when she took the respirator from the plaintiff. . . . In so exercising her authority and judgment . . . Derin bound the defendant to her decision so that, at the time, the defendant had no separate mind, will or existence of its own. . . . Derin was the safety manager of the [defendant] . . . . This is a title of such rank as it is deemed as an alter ego of the defendant, and . . . Derin is so situated in the corporate structure as to bind the corporation. . . . Derin,asthedefendant'ssafeymanager,hadtheauthor- ity to make policy for the defendant regarding safety procedures. . . . Derin had the authority to control policy for the defendant regarding safety procedures.'' The defendant moved to strike the fourth amended complaint with prejudice. The defendant again con- tendedthatthepleadingwaslegallyinsufficienttobring thisclaimwithinthealteregoexceptiontotheexclusiv- ityprovisionoftheact.Thecourtagreedwiththedefen- dant and granted the motion to strike with prejudice. Weconcludethatthetrialcourtproperlydetermined thattheplaintiff'sallegationsestablishednothingmore than that Derin exercised the control typical of any corporatesafetymanageranddidnotrisetothelevelof alter egostatus. Theplaintiff failed toallege ``complete domination'' over the defendant, as required by the instrumentality rule. See Patel v. Flexo Converters, U.S.A., Inc., supra, 309 Conn. 59 n.7. Additionally, the allegations in the fourth amended complaint failed to establish the type of unity of interest and ownership betweenDerinandthedefendanttosatisfytheidentity test.Seeid.Wenotethatthe``alteregotestisstringent'' and that the ``standard requires that the corporation, functionallyspeaking,havenoseparateexistencefrom the alter ego who controls and dominates the corpora- tion's affairs.'' Id., 58±59. The allegation that Derin cre- ated a policy regarding the use of respirators did not establish the level of control over the defendant neces- sary to pierce the corporate veil and come within the alter ego exception to the act's exclusivity provision, which was announced in Jett v. Dunlap, supra, 179 Conn. 219, and further explained in Patel. We also agree with the trial court that the plaintiff's bald assertion that the defendant lacked a separate mind, will or existence from Derin constituted a legal conclusion, and, therefore, lacked legal significance. ``A motion to strike does not admit legal conclusions.'' (Internalquotationmarksomitted.)Hirschv.Woermer, 184 Conn. App. 583, 588, 195 A.3d 1182, cert. denied, 330Conn.938,195A.3d384(2018);CadleCo.v.D'Adda- rio, 131 Conn. App. 223, 230, 26 A.3d 682 (2011); see also Heyward v. Judicial Dept., 178 Conn. App. 757, 762, 176 A.3d 1234 (2017) (motion to strike properly granted if complaint alleges mere conclusions of law unsupported by facts alleged). For these reasons, we concludethatthetrialcourtproperlygrantedthedefen- dant's motion to strike the plaintiff's fourth amended complaint with prejudice. In an attempt to avoid this result, the plaintiff has raisedtwoargumentswhichweconcludearenotprop- erly before this court. First, in his reply brief and at oral argument, the plaintiff claimed that we should reconsider our jurisprudence regarding the alter ego exception to the workers' compensation exclusivity provision, particularly with respect to larger corpora- tions. We decline to consider this argument because it was not raised before the trial court; see Taylor v. Pollner, 210 Conn. App. 340, 345, 270 A.3d 213 (2022); and was raised for the first time to this court in the plaintiff's reply brief. See Ostapowicz v. Wisniewski, 210 Conn. App. 401, 413±14 n.9, 270 A.3d 145 (2022) (declining to review claim raised for first time in reply brief). Additionally, as anintermediate appellate court, we are bound to follow the controlling precedent from our Supreme Court.Onofrio v.Mineri, 207 Conn. App. 630, 645n.4, 263 A.3d857 (2021) (noting thatthis court is unable to modify Supreme Court precedent). For these reasons, we decline to consider the plaintiff's argumentthatweshouldreconsiderourlawpertaining to the alter ego exception. Second, at oral argument before this court, a discus- sionregardingcertainlanguagefromPatelv.FlexoCon- verters,U.S.A.,Inc., supra, 309 Conn. 58 n.6, occurred. This footnote in Patel describes an additional way for a plaintiff to avoid the exclusive nature of the act. Spe- cifically, it states: ``We note that a plaintiff alleging an intentional tort directly committed or authorized by the employer need not prove that the actor was the employer's alter ego. Jett v. Dunlap, supra, 179 Conn. 218.''(Internalquotationmarksomitted.)Patelv.Flexo Converters,U.S.A.,Inc.,supra,58n.6.Duringargument, the plaintiff's counsel appeared to take the position that this alternative means to bypass the exclusivity provision of the act provided an additional pathway to reverse the granting of the motion to strike the fourth amended complaint with prejudice. After our careful review of the record, as demon- strated by the extensive review of the plaintiff's plead- ings from his initial complaint to the fourth amended complaint that was stricken with prejudice, we con- clude that the plaintiff did not allege or argue that an intentionaltorthadbeendirectlycommittedorauthor- ized by the defendant. Specifically, we note that in its September 17, 2019 memorandum of decision granting the defendant's motion to strike the first count of the plaintiff'srevisedcomplaint,thecourtexpresslystated that ``[t]he alter ego status of Derin . . . was the only basis on which the plaintiff asserted the intentional tort exception to the workers' compensation exclusiv- ity.''(Emphasisadded.)Theallegationssetforthinthe plaintiff'sthirdandfourthamendedcomplaintsdidnot advance a claim of an intentional tort directly commit- ted or authorized by the defendant. ``[A] party cannot presentacasetothetrialcourtononetheoryandthen seek appellate relief on a different one . . . . For this court to . . . consider [a] claim on the basis of a spe- cific legal ground not raised during trial would amount to trial by ambuscade, unfair both to the [court] and to the opposing party.'' (Citation omitted; internal quo- tation marks omitted.) Avoletta v. Torrington, 133 Conn. App. 215, 223 n.8, 34 A.3d 445 (2012). Furthermore, the plaintiff failed to adequately brief the issue of whether an intentional tort had been directlycommittedorauthorizedbythedefendant.``We repeatedly have stated that [w]e are not required to review issues that have been improperly presented to this court through an inadequate brief. . . . Analysis, ratherthanmereabstractassertion,isrequiredinorder to avoid abandoning an issue by failure to brief the issue properly. . . . [F]or this court judiciously and efficiently to consider claims of error raised on appeal . . . the parties must clearly and fully set forth their arguments in their briefs.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Robb v. Connecticut Board of Veterinary Medicine, 204 Conn. App. 595, 611, 254 A.3d 915, cert. denied, 338 Conn. 911, 259 A.3d 654 (2021). For these reasons, we decline to consider the applicability of the exception to the exclusivity provision of the act set forth in Patel v. Flexco Converters U.S.A., Inc., supra, 309 Conn. 58 n.6. The judgment is affirmed. In this opinion the other judges concurred. 1 See, e.g., Doe v. Cochran, 332 Conn. 325, 328, 210 A.3d 469 (2019); Sullivan v. Lake Compounce Theme Park, 277 Conn. 113, 117, 889 A.2d 810 (2006). 2 ``OSHA isdesigned toimpose duties uponemployers toensure worksite safetyforthebenefitoftheirownemployeesaswellasanyotheremployees workingonoratanyworksitethatisundertheemployer'scontrol.''Bouch- ard v. Deep River, 155 Conn. App. 490, 497±98, 110 A.3d 484 (2015); see also 29 U.S.C. §651 et seq. (2018). 3 Count two of the plaintiff's fourth amended complaint set forth a claim of unlawful retaliation. General Statutes §31-51q provides in relevant part: ``Any employer . . . who subjects any employee to discipline or discharge on account of the exercise by such employee of rights guaranteed by the first amendment to the United States Constitution or section 3, 4 or 14 of article first of the Constitution of the state, provided such activity does not substantially or materially interfere with the employee's bona fide job performance or the working relationship between the employee and the employer, shall be liable to such employee for damages caused by such discipline or discharge, including punitive damages, and for reasonable attorney's fees as part of the costs of any such action for damages.'' The trial court presumed that the plaintiff's multiple references in the fourth amended complaint to General Statutes §31-51g constituted a typographi- cal error. The defendant objected to count two of the fourth amended complaint on the grounds that this cause of action was raised for the first time and was ``exceedingly and unjustifiably untimely and . . . would be barred by the statute of limitations.'' The court sustained the defendant's objection to the plaintiff's request for leave to add count two to the fourth amended complaint, and the plaintiff has not challenged that ruling in this appeal. 4 In the proceedings before the trial court, the plaintiff also alleged that anotheremployee,KristenSabatino,thedefendant'shumanresourcesdirec- tor, acted as its alter ego because she had the authority to ``make policy andimplementstrategiesforthedefendantregardingtraining,development, safetyandhealth.''Thecourtconcludedthattheplaintiff'sallegationsagainst Sabatino were legally insufficient, and the plaintiff has not challenged this aspect of the court's ruling on appeal. Accordingly, we limit our discussion to the plaintiff's allegations regarding Derin. 5 See General Statutes §31-284; Mello v. Big Y Foods, Inc., 265 Conn. 21, 25±26, 826 A.2d 1117 (2003). 6 As a general rule, ``[a]fter a court has granted a motion to strike, the plaintiff may either amend his pleading [pursuant to Practice Book §10-44] or, on the rendering of judgment, file an appeal. . . . The choices are mutu- ally exclusive [as] [t]he filing of an amended pleading operates as a waiver of the right to claim that there was error in the sustaining of the [motion to strike]the original pleading.''(Citation omitted; internalquotation marks omitted.)St.Denisv.deToledo,90Conn.App.690,693±94,879A.2d503,cert. denied, 276 Conn. 907, 884 A.2d 1028 (2005); see also Sempey v. Stamford Hospital, 194 Conn. App. 505, 511±12, 221 A.3d 839 (2019). In the present case,however,theplaintiffwasnotpermittedtoamendhisfourthamended complaint because the court had granted the defendant's motion to strike with prejudice. See, e.g., DeCorso v. Calderaro, 118 Conn. App. 617, 624, 985 A.2d 349 (2009), cert. denied, 295 Conn. 919, 991 A.2d 564 (2010). 7 GeneralStatutes§31-284(a)provides:``Anemployerwhocomplieswith the requirements of subsection (b) of this section shall not be liable for any action for damages on account of personal injury sustained by an employeearisingoutofandinthecourseofhisemploymentoronaccount of death resulting from personal injury so sustained, but an employer shall secure compensation for his employees as provided under this chapter, except that compensation shall not be paid when the personal injury has been caused by the wilful and serious misconduct of the injured employee or by his intoxication. All rights and claims between an employer who complies with the requirements of subsection (b) of this section and employees,oranyrepresentativesordependentsofsuchemployees,arising outofpersonalinjuryordeathsustainedinthecourseofemploymentare abolished other than rights and claims given by this chapter, provided nothing in this section shall prohibit any employee from securing, by agree- ment with his employer, additional compensation from his employer for the injury or from enforcing any agreement for additional compensation.'' (Emphasis added.) 8 ``[I]n Suarez v. Dickmont Plastics Corp., 229 Conn. 99, 639 A.2d 507 (1994) . . . and Suarez v. Dickmont Plastics Corp., 242 Conn. 255, 698 A.2d 838 (1997) . . . the court expanded the intentional tort exception to the exclusivity provision to include circumstances in which either . . . the employer actually intended to injure the plaintiff (actual intent standard) or . . . the employer intentionally created a dangerous condition that made the plaintiff's injuries substantially certain to occur (substantial certainty standard).''(Internalquotationmarksomitted.)Binkowskiv.BoardofEdu- cation, 180 Conn. App. 580, 586, 184 A.3d 279 (2018); see also Lucenti v. Laviero, 327 Conn. 764, 778±79, 176 A.3d 1 (2018); Stebbins v. Doncasters, Inc., 263 Conn. 231, 233, 819 A.2d 287 (2003). 9 Theplaintiff'scomplaintalsoincludedasecondcountclaimingwrongful dischargeinviolationof§31-51minwhichheallegedthathewasterminated for exercising his first amendment rights when he reported the defendant to OSHA. On October 4, 2018, the plaintiff filed a request to amend the complainttoaddasecondwrongfuldischargeclaim.Specifically,hesought to include an additional count alleging that he had been terminated ``in retaliationforraisingissuesthatderivefromthelawthatsupportimportant publicpolicesabouthealthandsafetyintheworkplace.''Thecourtoverruled thedefendant'sobjectionandpermittedtheplaintifftoamendhiscomplaint. 10 See footnote 9 of this opinion. 11 The statement of facts section and count one of the revised amended complaint essentially mirrored those of the amended complaint. 12 While the defendant's motion to strike the second revised complaint was pending, the plaintiff filed a request to file a third revised complaint on June 10, 2019. The proposed third revised complaint included, inter alia, language regarding Derin and her employment role for the defendant. The defendant objected to the plaintiff's request and, on July 1, 2019, the court sustained the defendant's objection. 13 Practice Book §10-44 provides in relevant part: ``Within fifteen days after the granting of any motion to strike, the party whose pleading has been stricken may file a new pleading; provided that in those instances where an entire complaint, counterclaim or cross complaint, or any count in a complaint, counterclaim or cross complaint has been stricken, and the party whose pleading or a count thereof has been so stricken fails to file a new pleading within that fifteen day period, the judicial authority may, upon motion, enter judgment against said party on said stricken complaint, counterclaim or cross complaint, or count thereof. . . .''

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