NILSA CORDERO et al. v. UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT HEALTH CENTER et al., SC 18804

Judicial District of Hartford

 

State-Administered General Assistance; Whether Trial Court Properly Found that Lien Provisions of General Statutes 17b-94 (a) Applied Where General Assistance Beneficiary Sued the State as Tortfeasor. The plaintiff brought this negligence action to recover damages for injuries that she sustained at the University of Connecticut Health Center. The state pleaded a right of setoff as to $70,682.33 in state-administered general assistance (SAGA) payments that it had made to the plaintiff. After the plaintiff prevailed in the action, the trial court took up the state's claim that it was entitled to a setoff of the entire amount of the SAGA payments. The plaintiff, however, argued that General Statutes 17b-93 (a) and 17b-94 (a) applied to limit the setoff amount. Section 17b-93 (a) provides that when beneficiaries of aid under the SAGA program have acquired property, the state shall have a claim for the full amount paid, "subject to the provisions of section 17b-94." Section 17b-94 (a), in turn, provides that when beneficiaries of aid under the SAGA program bring causes of action, "the claim of the state shall be a lien against the proceeds therefrom in the amount of the assistance paid or fifty percent of the proceeds received by such beneficiary . . . after payment of expenses connected with the cause of action, whichever is less, for repayment under said section 17b-93." The court, agreeing with the plaintiff that the lien provisions of 17b-94 applied to the state's setoff claim, determined that the lien amount was fifty percent of the proceeds, or $39,448. On appeal, the state contends that the provisions of 17b-94 were intended to provide the state with a means of recovering its payments from the proceeds of an action brought by a SAGA beneficiary against a third party tortfeasor and are not applicable when the beneficiary sues the state as tortfeasor.