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Hayden-LeBlanc v. New London Broadcasting

CASE NO. 1373 CRD-2-92-1

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD/DIVISION

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

JANUARY 5, 1994

JANET L. HAYDEN-LEBLANC

CLAIMANT-APPELLEE

CROSS-APPELLANT

v.

NEW LONDON BROADCASTING

EMPLOYER

and

U.S. FIDELITY & GUARANTY CO.

INSURER

RESPONDENTS-APPELLANTS

CROSS-APPELLEES

APPEARANCES:

The claimant was represented by Lewis C. Maruzo, Esq., Horwitz, Maruzo & Benson, 74 West Main Street, P.O. Drawer 940, Norwich, CT 06360.

The respondents were represented by Lucas D. Strunk, Esq., Pomeranz, Drayton and Stabnick, 95 Glastonbury Boulevard, Glastonbury, CT 06033-4412.

This Petition for Review from the January 6, 1992 Finding and Award of the Commissioner for the Second District was heard January 8, 1993 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of Commissioners John A. Arcudi, George A. Waldron and Donald H. Doyle, Jr.

OPINION

JOHN A. ARCUDI, COMMISSIONER. Respondents appeal raises a Sec. 31-294, C.G.S. defense in that a written notice of claim was not filed within a year of the injury. Claimant’s injury occurred December 30, 1986 when she fell attempting to sit at her work desk.

After several weeks of back pain symptoms she was treated by an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. A. John Elliot. She took the bill for Dr. Elliot’s services to Beth Glynn, the employer’s secretary who was in charge of processing employees’ medical claims. Ms. Glynn gave claimant a form to complete for the employer’s group medical insurance carrier. Claimant then wrote answers as requested on the form January 13, 1987. These answers contained claimant’s name and address as well as description of how the back injury occurred at work. Ms. Glynn then submitted the completed form and Dr. Elliot’s bill to Northbrook, the group insurer. Northbrook, two months later, denied coverage stating “WC related illness or injury is not covered.”

Claimant discussed the denial with Glynn. Glynn referred the claimant to Ed Roach, the employer’s general manager. As Glynn was unfamiliar with workers’ compensation claims procedure and claimant herself had never filed for workers’ compensation before. Roach told claimant it was too late to file a compensation claim as such a claim had to be filed at the time of injury. She was advised from other sources almost two years later that she could file a claim, and she then filed a Form 30-C Notice of Claim January 27, 1989.

The commissioner found “through the totality of circumstances the employer had actual knowledge of the injury and . . . the filing of the group insurance form and the insurer’s denial constituted a written notice of claim . . . .” He therefore awarded benefits.

“The purpose of Sec. 31-294 . . . is to alert the employer to the fact that a person has sustained an injury that may be compensable . . . and that such person is claiming or proposes to claim compensation under the Act.” (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Black v. London & Egazarian Associates, Inc., 30 Conn. App. 295, 303, cert. denied, 225 Conn. 916 (1993). While compliance with the limitation period set forth in Sec. 31-294 is jurisdictional in nature; Rehtarchik v. Hoyt-Messinger Corporation, 118 Conn. 315 (1934); Pelletier v. Caron Pipe Jacking, Inc., 13 Conn. App. 276 (1988); Romeo v. H & L Chevrolet, Inc., 10 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 72, 1149 CRD-7-90-12 (1992); substantial compliance with the notice content requirements set forth in Sec. 31-294 sufficient to fulfill the purpose of the statute will toll the running of the statutory period. McGowan v. Robin Michaels Beauty Center, 10 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 121, 1246 CRD-3-91-6 (1992); Estate of John Paul v. Perkin Elmer Corp., 7 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 75, 77, 684 CRD-7-88-1 (1989); Fuller v. Central Paving Co., 5 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 92, 655 CRD-1-87 (1988); see also Yuknat v. State, 3 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 43, 44, 274 CRD-2-83 (1986), aff’d, 9 Conn. App. 425 (1987) (totality of claimant’s submission supplied all the elements for a Sec. 31-294 notice). Consequently, it is settled that the notice need not be drafted with “absolute precision”; Black v. London & Egazarian Associates, Inc., supra; and “a written notice of claim lacking one or more of the elements set forth in Sec. 31-294 may be sufficient to meet the time limitations requirement of that statute . . . .” Fuller v. Central Paving Co., supra, 94; see also Estate of John Paul v. Perkin Elmer Corp., supra.1

The employer in this case had knowledge of claimant’s injury, and the “totality of circumstances” involved in the written group medical form coupled with Northbrook’s written rejection constituted Sec. 31-294 written notice within one year. The commissioner’s conclusion in that regard is a factual finding which must stand. Fair v. People’s Savings Bank, 207 Conn. 535 (1988).

We therefore affirm the Second District and deny respondents’ appeal.

Pursuant to Sec. 31-301c(b) we grant interest at the statutorily permitted rate on any benefit amount remaining unpaid pending this appeal.

Commissioners George A. Waldron and Donald H. Doyle, Jr. concur.

1 It should be noted that while such a technically deficient notice may not result in a time-barred claim, it will not satisfy the preclusion provisions of General Statutes Sec. 31-297(b) for creating an irrebutable presumption of compensability. Salvaggio v. Candlewood Valley Bus Co., 6 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 156, 731 CRD-7-88-5 (1989); Fuller v. Central Paving Co., 5 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 92, 655 CRD-1-87 (1988). BACK TO TEXT

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State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
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