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Sharp v. James Wright Precision

CASE NO. 1596 CRB-2-92-12

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

JUNE 8, 1994

THERESA SHARP

CLAIMANT-APPELLANT

v.

JAMES WRIGHT PRECISION

EMPLOYER

and

FRANK B. HALL & CO.

INSURER

RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES

APPEARANCES:

The claimant was represented by Mark W. Oberlatz, Esq., O’Brien, Shafner, Stuart, Kelly & Morris, P.C., P.O. Drawer 929, Groton, CT 06340.

The respondents were represented by Richard S. Bartlett, Esq., McGann, Bartlett & Brown, 281 Hartford Turnpike, Suite 401, Vernon, CT 06066.

This Petition for Review from the December 7, 1992 Finding and Award of the Commissioner for the Second District was heard December 2, 1993 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 has petitioned for review from the Second District Commissioner’s December 7, 1992 Finding and Award. In that Finding and Award, the commissioner found the claimant to be partially incapacitated from June 3, 1988 until November 28, 1988 due to contact dermatitis which was job induced, and awarded compensation pursuant to General Statutes Sec. 31-308(a). On appeal, the claimant contends that the trial commissioner improperly concluded that the claimant was no longer disabled after November 28, 1988. We affirm the trial commissioner.

The disposition of this appeal is controlled by our Supreme Court’s decision in Ferrara v. Clifton Wright Hat Co., 125 Conn. 140 (1939). In Ferrara, the claimant developed a susceptibility to a recurrence of dermatitis as a result of the exposure to various chemical agents in the course of his employment. The Ferrara court, however, rejected the claimant’s contention that he was entitled to further compensation benefits, after an initial period of total disability benefits, because his condition rendered him unable to continue his usual work and because he had made a diligent but fruitless search for other work. “In order to be compensable, destruction or impairment of earning capacity must be due to conditions resulting from the specific injury and not to other reasons unconnected therewith . . . . Failure to find work is . . . no ground for compensation if the failure has its origin in general business conditions, the slackness of the demand for labor . . .; [it] stands upon a different basis when the labor is unmarketable because of the condition of the laborer . . . . A finding that a workman has been unable to earn anything must be supplemented by a further finding that the inability was due to his injury, and while inability to obtain work by the exercise of due diligence is evidential it is not so conclusive as to require a finding of incapacity.” Id., 142-43. “The test of incapacity is not the employee’s ability or disability because of his injury to do his old job but whether he could do another job and earn as much money.” Clark v. Henry & Wright Mfg. Co., 136 Conn. 514, 517 (1950).

Here, the commissioner had before him sufficient evidence from which he could find that the claimant was no longer partially disabled after November 28, 1988. As of that date, the claimant’s treating dermatologist described the claimant’s condition as “excellent” and opined that “she is not disabled at this time.” Claimant’s Exhibit A (Office Notes of Dr. K. Stevens Taylor). Additionally, the claimant did not receive treatment from Dr. Stevens thereafter until January, 1990, when she experienced a flare up of her eczema condition after using household detergent. Although occupational restrictions were placed on the claimant concerning contact with chemical irritants, she was not prevented from doing other jobs which did not involve contact with such irritants. The claimant documented her search for work and testified that economic and personal reasons unconnected to her workplace injury adversely affected her job search. Moreover, she was able to secure employment with several employers but left those jobs when things did not work out for reasons unrelated to her compensable injury.

In the present case, the commissioner could have properly determined, notwithstanding the claimaint’s efforts to find work, that any inability on her part to find suitable employment was not due to an incapacity resulting from the injury. See Clark v. Henry & Wright Mfg. Co., supra, 517-18; Ferrara v. Clifton Wright Hat Co., supra, 143-44. As the conclusion reached from the facts found did not result from incorrect applications of law or from inferences illegally or unreasonably drawn from those facts, the commissioner’s conclusion must stand. Fair v. People’s Savings Bank, 207 Conn. 535, 539 (1988).

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

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

Workers’ Compensation Commission

Page last revised: October 14, 2015

Page URL: http://wcc.state.ct.us/crb/1994/1596crb.htm

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