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Orzechowski v. Echlin, Inc.

CASE NO. 2086 CRB-3-94-6

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

DECEMBER 5, 1995

JOHN ORZECHOWSKI

CLAIMANT-APPELLANT

v.

ECHLIN, INC.

EMPLOYER

RESPONDENT-APPELLEE

APPEARANCES:

The claimant was represented by Allan B. Rubenstein, Esq., 18 Trumbull Street, New Haven, CT 06511.

The respondent was represented by Lawrence R. Pellet, Esq., Feeley, Nichols, Chase, McDermott & Pellett, P.C., 37 Leavenworth Street, Waterbury, CT 06702.

This Petition for Review from the June 17, 1994 Finding and Dismissal of the Commissioner acting for the Third District was heard April 7, 1995 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman Jesse M. Frankl and Commissioners Roberta Smith Tracy and Amado J. Vargas.

OPINION

JESSE M. FRANKL, CHAIRMAN. The claimant has petitioned for review from the June 17, 1994 Finding and Dismissal of the Commissioner for the Third District. The trial commissioner found that the claimant failed to file a claim within one year of the date of injury and thus dismissed the claim. Specifically, the commissioner found that the claimant suffered an acute myocardial infarction on May 2, 1986, but did not file a notice of claim until January 3, 1989. In support of his appeal, the claimant contends that the commissioner should have applied the three-year statute of non-claim for occupational diseases rather than the one-year statute of non-claim for accidental injuries. In the alternative, the claimant contends that his injury was the result of repetitive stress. We affirm the trial commissioner’s decision.

Section 31-294c C.G.S. provides in part that “[n]o proceedings for compensation under the provisions of this chapter shall be maintained unless a written notice of claim for compensation is given within one year from the date of the accident or within three years from the first manifestation of a symptom of the occupational disease, as the case may be, which caused the personal injury.” This statute is jurisdictional in nature, and prevents a workers’ compensation commissioner from considering any claim that is not timely filed. See Buck v. General Dynamics Corp., 12 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 96, 98, 1374 CRB-2-92-1 (Feb. 28, 1994).

The trial commissioner made the following relevant findings. The claimant suffered an acute anteroseptal myocardial infarction on May 2, 1986. The claimant was experiencing job stress and was working long hours prior to that date. In addition, on May 2, 1986, the claimant had pre-existing atherosclerotic heart disease. There was no medical evidence that the claimant’s heart disease was causally related to his employment. The commissioner concluded that the claimant’s heart disease was not causally related to his employment. The claimant filed his notice of claim on January 3, 1989. The commissioner concluded that the claimant’s injury of May 2, 1986 was not an occupational disease, and thus dismissed the claim for failure to give notice within one year of the injury as required by § 31-294c.

This board has consistently ruled that a heart attack is an injury “‘which may be definitely located as (to) the time when and the place where the accident occurred’ and not as an ‘injury ... which ... is the direct result of repetitive trauma’ or ‘occupational disease as herein defined.’” Deck v. City of Groton, 8 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 1, 2, 745 CRD-2-88-6 (Dec. 12, 1989) (citing Stier v. Derby, 119 Conn. 44 (1934); Jones v. Hamden, 129 Conn. 532 (1942); McDonough v. Connecticut Bank & Trust, 204 Conn. 104 (1987); Donato v. Pantry Pride, 37 Conn. Sup. 836 (1981)). We do not agree with the claimant’s argument that because the heart attack was allegedly due to repeated stress, the injury thus constitutes a repetitive trauma injury. Rather, where an injury can be definitely located as to the time and place of its occurrence, such as the heart attack in the case at hand, it constitutes an accidental injury. See Deck, supra, see also Paccadolmi v. Town of Newtown, 10 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 116, 1270 CRD-4-91-8 (May 13, 1992). In the instant case, the claimant did not provide a written notice of claim until almost three years after the date of his myocardial infarction. Thus, the commissioner properly dismissed the claim because notice was not timely pursuant to § 31-294c.

In support of his appeal, the claimant contends that he filed a timely claim for pre-existing atherosclerotic heart disease aggravated by his employment, which he argues constitutes an occupational disease. However, “an occupational disease does not include a disease which results from the peculiar conditions surrounding the employment of the claimant in a kind of work which would not from its nature be more likely to cause it than would other kinds of employment carried on underthesameconditions.” Crochiere v. Board of Education, 227 Conn. 333, 353 (1993) (citations omitted) (emphasis added). Thus, heart disease which is caused by job stress would not ordinarily constitute an occupational disease. Moreover, the commissioner specifically found that the claimant’s pre-existing heart disease was not causally related to his employment. Whether the claimant’s injury arose out of and in the course of his employment requires a factual determination which we will not disturb unless it is found without evidence, contrary to law or based on unreasonable or impermissible factual inferences. Fair v. People’s Savings Bank, 207 Conn. 535 (1988); Northrop v. Boehringer Ingelheim, 9 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 228, 1032 CRD-7-90-6 (Oct. 30, 1991). There is sufficient evidence in the record to support the trial commissioner’s determination that the claimant’s heart disease was not caused by his employment.

Accordingly, the trial commissioner’s decision is affirmed.

Commissioners Roberta Smith Tracy and Amado J. Vargas concur.

Workers’ Compensation Commission

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