Home Invasion in Connecticut Leads to $835K Verdict for False Imprisonment, Other Intentional Torts

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962334_57900306.jpgA Connecticut woman received a jury verdict of $835,700 in a lawsuit against her employer for false imprisonment and intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress. She worked in a home office at her employer’s residence, and was held there against her will for several hours when someone broke into the house. The lawsuit, Socci v. Pasiak, alleged intentional torts rather than a premises liability theory, such as inadequate security, because her employer allegedly cooperated with or assisted her assailant. The defendant challenged the verdict on several grounds, but the Connecticut Court of Appeals upheld it.

The plaintiff, Sara Socci worked for the defendant, Jeffrey Pasiak, in an office located in his home in Stamford. While the plaintiff was at work by herself on May 9, 2006, a masked man with a gun entered her second-floor office and ordered her to open the safe. She did not know the combination. While trying to get her to give him the combination, the intruder blindfolded and gagged her, and tied her hands. He also held his gun to her head and threatened to kill her family if she did not tell him the safe combination.

The defendant returned to the office while the intruder was still present. The two men fought, and the defendant sustained injuries. The intruder’s mask came off while they were fighting, and he was revealed as Pasiak’s close friend Richard Kotulsky. The two began to talk, and the plaintiff heard them discuss what to do about “the girl,” referring to her. Pasiak let Kotulsky leave the premises, at which point Socci told him about Kotulsky’s threats to her family. Pasiak allegedly advised her not to contact the police or speak to anyone about the incident. She said she did not leave the premises for hours, for fear of harm to her family.