State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
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Casagrande v. Federal Express

CASE NO. 1561 CRB-5-92-11

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

APRIL 29, 1994

RENAY CASAGRANDE

CLAIMANT-APPELLANT

v.

FEDERAL EXPRESS

EMPLOYER

SELF INSURED

and

ALEXSIS INSURANCE CO.

RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES

APPEARANCES:

The claimant was represented by David C. Leard, Esq., Manasse, Slaiby & Leard, 459 Prospect Street, Torrington, CT 06790.

The respondents were represented by James T. Baldwin, Esq., Cotter, Cotter & Sohon, P.C., P.O. Box 5660, Bayview Station, Bridgeport, CT 06610.

This Petition for Review from the November 18, 1992 Finding and Dismissal of the Commissioner for the Fifth District was heard March 11, 1994 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman Jesse Frankl and Commissioners Angelo L. dos Santos and Nancy A. Brouillet.

OPINION

JESSE FRANKL, CHAIRMAN. The claimant has petitioned for review from the Fifth District Commissioner’s November 18, 1992 Finding and Dismissal. The trial commissioner concluded that the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission is without jurisdiction over the claim involving an injury occurring out of state. We remand the case to the trial commissioner for further proceedings.

The claimant was initially hired by the respondent-employer Federal Express in Connecticut on December 1, 1986. She performed her employment duties as a courier for Federal Express exclusively in Connecticut between December 1, 1986 and August 1, 1990.

On or before July, 1990, the claimant explored the opportunity of transferring to the employer’s Lexington, Kentucky work station. On July 23, 1990, the claimant accepted an offer, extended by the operations manager of the Lexington work station, of the position of full time courier with Federal Express in its Lexington location. The claimant began working in Kentucky on August 13, 1990. She sustained an injury arising out of and in the course of her employment with the respondent-employer in Kentucky one week later.

The trial commissioner found that the claimant’s employment relation had transferred to Kentucky at the time of her injury and that the claimant’s place of hiring was Kentucky. He therefore concluded that Connecticut Workers’ Compensation jurisdiction was lacking with respect to the claim. On appeal, the claimant challenges the latter finding and conclusion.

In Cleveland v. U.S. Printing Ink, Inc., 218 Conn. 181 (1991), our Supreme Court held that Connecticut workers’ compensation jurisdiction applied where “Connecticut is the place of the injury, the place of the employment contract or the place of the employment relation.” Id., 195; Currier v. Retail Express, 11 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 234, 1344 CRD-6-91-11 (1993).

The claimant asserts that Connecticut jurisdiction lies with respect to her claim because the contract of employment between the claimant and her employer was made in Connecticut. When the contract of employment between the parties was entered into in this state, our Workers’ Compensation Act is available to determine the compensability of the employee’s injury, regardless of the place of the employment relationship or the place of injury. Cleveland v. U.S. Printing Ink, Inc., supra; Morin v. Lemieux, 179 Conn. 501 (1980); Kennerson v. Thames Towboat Co., 89 Conn. 367 (1915).

The claimant first argues that her original (1986) employment contract with Federal Express remained in effect at the time of and after her transfer to Kentucky. Whether there is a new hiring when an employee is transferred to a new job site is a factual question to be resolved by the trial commissioner. Taylor v. New Penn Motor Express, 9 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 116, 950 CRD-2-89-11 (1991). The commissioner’s conclusion that the parties formed a new contract of employment in late July regarding the work to be performed in Kentucky is supported by the evidence and will not be disturbed on appeal. Fair v. People’s Savings Bank, 207 Conn. 535 (1988).

The claimant also maintains that Connecticut is the place of contract even if a new employment contract was formed regarding the transfer to Kentucky. “[If] the contract of employment between the parties was entered into in this state, our Work[ers’] Compensation Act determines the compensability of the [claimant’s] injury.” Morin v. Lemieux, supra, 503. The question to be resolved, then, is when and where was the contract between the claimant and the employer, which contemplated Kentucky employment, made by the parties.

In determining the place of the employment contract, we recite certain common law rules of contract formation. In order to form a binding contract, there must be an offer and an acceptance based on a mutual understanding by the parties. Cavallo v. Lewis, 1 Conn. App. 519, 520 (1984). A contract is considered made when and where the last thing necessary to create an enforceable agreement — the acceptance — is done. Alfred M. Best Co., Inc. v. Goldstein, 124 Conn. 597, 602 (1938); Supreme Colony v. Towne, 87 Conn. 644, 646-47 (1914). Unless the offer provides otherwise, an acceptance made in a manner and by a medium invited by the offer is operative as soon as its transmission begins and it is put out of the offeree’s possession. L. & E. Wertheimer, Inc. v. Wehle-Hartford Co., 126 Conn. 30, 35 (1939); Lyon v. Adgraphics, Inc., 14 Conn. App. 252, 255, cert. denied, 208 Conn. 808 (1988); Restatement (Second) of Contracts, Sec. 63(a).1

While a statement of the rules of contract formation seems rather straight forward, their application to the facts of this case is far from clear. Claimant’s Exhibit D, relied on by the commissioner, is a letter to the claimant from the respondent-employer’s Lexington, Kentucky operations manager. That letter states that its purpose “is to confirm our offer to you of the position of Full-Time Courier in the LEXA Station . . . . Please report to the LEXA station . . . on August 13, 1990.” The letter concludes by stating: “Please indicate your acceptance of our offer by signing this letter as indicated below and returning the original to my office no later than July 27, 1990.” At the bottom of the letter is printed the statement, “I accept the position and its terms as outlined in this letter and my application for employment,” to which the claimant affixed her signature and a date of July 23, 1990.

Based on this evidence, the trial commissioner found that on July 23, 1990, the claimant accepted the offer extended by the Lexington operations manager in Claimant’s Exhibit D. See Finding and Dismissal, paragraph 12. Although no finding was made on the issue, it appears that the claimant was in Connecticut on July 23, 1990. Notwithstanding the commissioner’s finding based on Claimant’s Exhibit D that the offer was accepted on July 23, 1990, the commissioner concludes that “[a]s a result of the . . . offer and acceptance of the position in Kentucky, the Claimant’s ‘place of hiring’ was Kentucky.” Finding and Dismissal, paragraph C.

It thus appears that paragraphs 12 and C of the Finding and Dismissal may be inconsistent. Accordingly, we must remand this case to the trial commissioner for further proceedings, which may require additional evidentiary hearings and additional factual findings, in order that the commissioner may apply the rules of contract formation to the facts of this case and determine if Connecticut was the place of hiring.

The matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Commissioners Angelo L. dos Santos and Nancy A. Brouillet concur.

1 In his treatise, Professor Larson notes “the unrealistic character of the place-of-contract test when construed to depend upon the sheer formality of being physically present in a particular geographical subdivision when a signature is scrawled or a word spoken into a telephone mouthpiece” and points out that “[t]he strict contract view . . . has for some years been giving way to the more pertinent inquiry into the location of the employment relation that results from the contract.” 4 A. Larson, Workmen’s Compensation Law, p. 16-113. Similar concerns were articulated by our Supreme Court in Simaitis v. Flood, 182 Conn. 24, 27-29 (1980). In Cleveland v. U.S. Printing Ink, Inc., 218 Conn. 181 (1991), however, our Supreme Court endorsed a test of Connecticut jurisdiction which applies Connecticut workers’ compensation law if Connecticut is the place of injury or the place of the employment relation or the place of hiring. It is, of course, up to our Supreme Court to re-examine Cleveland. See Kluttz v. Howard, 228 Conn. 401 (1994). BACK TO TEXT

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