Judicial District of New Britain


      Personal Injury; Collateral Sources; Health Insurance; Federal Preemption; Whether Trial Court Properly Ordered General Statutes § 52-225a Collateral Source Reduction Where Collateral Source Payments Made Under ERISA Health Plan.  The plaintiff brought this personal injury action seeking damages for injuries he sustained in an automobile accident.  After a jury trial, the plaintiff was awarded $84,283.67 in economic damages.  The defendants sought a collateral source reduction under General Statutes § 52-225a, which provides that the court shall reduce the amount of economic damages awarded to a personal injury claimant by the difference between the amount of collateral source benefits paid on the claimant’s behalf and the amount paid to secure those benefits.  The statute also provides that “there shall be no reduction for . . . a collateral source for which a right of subrogation exists.”  General Statutes § 52-225c, in turn, provides that “[u]nless otherwise provided by law, no insurer or any other person providing collateral source benefits . . . shall be entitled to recover the amount of any such benefits from the defendant . . . as a result of any claim or action for damages for personal injury. . . .”  The trial court ordered a $24,299.75 collateral source reduction in the award of economic damages.  The plaintiff appeals, claiming that the court erred in ordering a collateral source reduction under § 52-225a where the collateral source payments were made pursuant to an employee health plan that provides a right of subrogation.  The plaintiff contends that it is undisputed that the health care expenses were paid under a self-insured health plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and that the plan provides a right of subrogation.  The plaintiff also argues that § 52-225c does not operate to nullify the right to subrogation in the health plan because ERISA preempts state law as it “relates to” employee benefit plans.  The defendants argue that the payer waived any right of subrogation under the health plan when it agreed to accept $7000 as “full and final satisfaction of [its] subrogation and/or right of reimbursement interest.”