State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
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Olds v. Howe Place Associates

CASE NO. 2099 CRB-3-94-7

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

DECEMBER 5, 1995

LEVI OLDS

CLAIMANT-APPELLEE

v.

HOWE PLACE ASSOCIATES

EMPLOYER

NO RECORD OF INSURANCE

RESPONDENT-APPELLANT

and

SECOND INJURY FUND

RESPONDENT-APPELLEE

APPEARANCES:

The claimant was represented by Albert Moquet, Esq., 60 Trumbull St., New Haven, CT 06510.

The respondent was represented by Geoffrey Hecht, Esq., Virshup, Caplan & Hecht, 20 Trumbull Street, P. O. Box 9505, New Haven, CT 06534.

The Second Injury Fund was represented by Michael Giammatteo, Esq., Assistant Attorney General, 55 Elm St., P. O. Box 120, Hartford, CT 06141-0120.

This Petition for Review from the July 7, 1994 Finding and Award of the Commissioner acting for the Third District was heard April 21, 1995 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman Jesse M. Frankl and Commissioners Amado J. Vargas and Michael S. Miles.

OPINION

JESSE M. FRANKL, CHAIRMAN. The respondent employer has petitioned for review from the July 7, 1994 Finding and Award of the Commissioner for the Third District. It argues on appeal that the commissioner erroneously failed to schedule further proceedings to determine whether an insurance contract existed on the date of injury. We affirm the trial commissioner’s decision.

The claimant, a maintenance worker at the respondent’s apartments, alleged that he injured his right arm while moving a refrigerator in the course of his employment on January 26, 1990. The respondent disputed the claim of injury. It further alleged that it had workers’ compensation insurance with Seaco Insurance Co. (Seaco) on January 26, 1990. Seaco denied the existence of such an insurance contract. The trial commissioner found that the claimant was indeed injured as claimed, and that he was totally disabled for over six weeks following arm surgery in April 1990. The commissioner further found that the respondent was uninsured on the date of injury, and ordered it to pay the claimant’s benefits out of pocket. The respondent appealed from that award.

The respondent argues on appeal that neither it nor the Second Injury Fund contemplated that proceedings were closed on the issue of insurance when the trial commissioner made his decision. It contends that this case should be remanded for further proceedings because it was improper for the trial commissioner to determine the matter based on an incomplete record and an inadequate disclosure of facts.

The respondent placed in evidence several documents relating to the insurance issue, including an insurance binder with an effective date of February 20, 1990, above which date was written “12/19/90” and initialed by the respondent’s principal. Another of these documents was an interoffice memo from an employee of Thompson & Peck, the respondent’s insurance agent, stating that they believed workers’ compensation coverage began on December 20, 1989. The claimant introduced a letter from Seaco to this Commission denying that it insured the respondent either currently or on January 26 ,1990. The respondent’s counsel also stated at the formal hearing that his client was suing the insurance agency in Superior Court over the disputed insurance contract, and the respondent’s principal testified regarding the details of the confusion over insurance coverage and the pending suit.

The respondent requested in its trial brief that further proceedings be held regarding the issue of insurance coverage, and that Seaco and the insurance agent be made parties to the proceedings in order to bind them. The trial commissioner instead made a finding that the respondent was uninsured for its workers’ compensation liability on the date of injury. We think this decision was correct under the circumstances. Although the commissioner could have ordered further hearings, the respondent’s principal stated that the insurance issue was already being litigated in Superior Court. Undoubtedly, it would not be wise to entertain simultaneous hearings on that same issue in the workers’ compensation forum. The more appropriate course of action was the one adopted by the commissioner: to award the claimant the benefits that he was entitled to, with the respondent liable for their payment (and, should it fail to pay, the Second Injury Fund under § 31-355 C.G.S.).

Everyone agrees that at the time of the award, the respondent had not yet demonstrated that he was insured. See Vernon v. V.J.R. Builders, Inc., 11 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 237, 1360 CRD-7-91-12 (Nov. 6, 1993). If civil proceedings later establish that the respondent was insured, the respondent can then request reimbursement from the insurer by seeking modification of the award. We do not think it appropriate, however, to hold the proceedings open indefinitely while the claimant remains uncompensated, as the respondent apparently wanted to do. Once a claimant is found to be entitled to benefits, he or she should begin receiving them as soon as possible.

The trial commissioner’s decision is affirmed.

Commissioners Amado J. Vargas and Michael S. Miles concur.

Workers’ Compensation Commission

Page last revised: January 21, 2005

Page URL: http://wcc.state.ct.us/crb/1995/2099crb.htm

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