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Martinez v. Connecticut Rental Center

CASE NO. 1437 CRB-8-92-6

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

FEBRUARY 28, 1994

FAUSTO MARTINEZ

CLAIMANT-APPELLEE

v.

CONNECTICUT RENTAL CENTER

EMPLOYER

and

MIDDLESEX MUTUAL ASSURANCE COMPANY

INSURER

RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES

and

WAUSAU INSURANCE COMPANY

INSURER

RESPONDENT-APPELLANT

APPEARANCES:

The claimant was represented by Duane Lueders, Esq., 900 Asylum Avenue, Suite 480, Hartford, CT 06105 who did not file a brief.

The respondents-appellees were represented by Carolyn A. Signorelli, Esq., Maher & Williams, P.O. Box 269, Bridgeport, CT 06601.

The respondent-appellant was represented by David D. Chapman, Esq., Law Offices of Larry H. Lewis, 639 Research Parkway, Meriden, CT 06450.

This Petition for Review from the June 4, 1992 Finding and Award of the Commissioner At Large acting for the Eighth District was decided on the basis of papers submitted for the April 16, 1993 hearing before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman Jesse Frankl and Commissioners George A. Waldron and Donald H. Doyle, Jr.

OPINION

JESSE FRANKL, CHAIRMAN. The claimant worked for Connecticut Rental Center from August through December, 1990. During the period of his employment, Connecticut Rental Center insured its workers’ compensation liability through November 9, 1990, with Wausau Insurance Company (Wausau) and thereafter with Middlesex Mutual Assurance Company. The trial commissioner found that the claimant had a pre-existing degenerative low back disease that was aggravated by the claimant’s repetitive-type heavy lifting at work commencing in August, 1990, and continuing through December 17, 1990, which repetitive trauma ultimately led to the claimant’s disabling condition. The trial commissioner, therefore, found the employer and both respondent-insurers liable for compensation benefits.

Respondent-insurer Wausau has appealed from the commissioner’s finding of compensability.1 On appeal, Wausau argues the evidence does not support the conclusion that the claimant’s injury arose from work-related repetitive acts during the time period while Wausau was on the risk, that is, prior to November 10, 1990. We disagree.

Whether an injury is definitely located in time and place or whether the process of injury was continuous or repetitive trauma and, if the latter, when the claimant was exposed to repetitive trauma, are factual determinations. See Hall v. McLean Home, 6 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 80, 577 CRD-5-87 (1989). We cannot disturb such determinations unless they are without evidentiary support, contrary to law or based on unreasonable or impermissible inferences. Fair v. People’s Savings Bank, 207 Conn. 535, 539 (1988).

Medical evidence relied on by the trial commissioner established that the claimant’s condition was caused by the nature of his employment which consisted of heavy lifting. See Claimant’s Exhibit A, reports of Dr. Steven Trott. The claimant testified that there was no identifiable trauma which caused his injury but that his job duties required heavy lifting every day. See Transcript of September 17, 1991, pp. 51, 64. Some of the heaviest and most difficult lifting, putting up tents for outdoor parties, occurred more frequently during the warmer months. See id., p. 72.

From this evidence, the commissioner could properly conclude that the claimant’s heavy lifting during his employment, both before and after November 9, 1990, was repetitive trauma which proximately caused his disabling condition. Wausau’s suggestion to the contrary notwithstanding, it was not necessary for the claimant to exhibit symptoms of his injury during the period of Wausau’s risk in order to conclude that he was exposed to repetitive trauma during that period which caused his injury. See General Statutes Sec. 31-275(8); Crochiere v. Board of Education, 227 Conn. 333, 353 (1993); Dupre v. Atlantic Refining Co., 98 Conn. 646 (1923). As the conclusions reached from the facts found did not result from incorrect applications of law or from inferences illegally or unreasonably drawn from those facts, those conclusions must stand. Fair v. People’s Savings Bank, supra.

We, therefore, affirm the trial commissioner and deny the appeal.

Additionally, pursuant to Sec. 31-301c(b), we grant interest at the rate permitted by statute on any amount remaining unpaid during the pendency of the appeal.

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

1 Respondent-insurer Middlesex Mutual Assurance Company withdrew its appeal after the trial commissioner denied its Motion to Correct. BACK TO TEXT

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