State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
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Bennings v. State of Connecticut/New Haven Community Correctional Institution

CASE NO. 2105 CRB-3-94-7

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

SEPTEMBER 22, 1995

ADDISON BENNINGS

CLAIMANT-APPELLANT

v.

STATE OF CONNECTICUT/NEW HAVEN COMMUNITY CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION

EMPLOYER

SELF-INSURED

RESPONDENT-APPELLEE

APPEARANCES:

The claimant was represented by Eroll V. Skyers, Esq., Skyers & Skyers, 955 Connecticut Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06607.

The respondent was represented by Richard Hine, Esq., Assistant Attorney General, 55 Elm St., P. O. Box 120, Hartford, CT 06141-0120.

This Petition for Review from the July 13, 1994 Finding and Denial of Motion to Preclude of the Commissioner acting for the Third District was heard February 24, 1995 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman Jesse M. Frankl and Commissioners Roberta S. D’Oyen and Amado J. Vargas.

OPINION

JESSE M. FRANKL, CHAIRMAN. The claimant has petitioned for review from the July 13, 1994 Finding and Denial of Motion to Preclude of the Commissioner for the Third District.1 The trial commissioner found that the claimant was employed with the respondent on December 10, 1992. He claims to have been threatened by a co-worker on that date, which he allegedly reported to a superior officer. The co-worker was arrested for the incident. The claimant subsequently began treating with a physician for emotional stress allegedly resulting from that incident. On January 22, 1993, he filled out a Report of Occupational Injury, and his physician completed a physician’s form. He did not file a Form 30C notice of claim with this commission, however.

The respondent sent the claimant a Form 43 notice of its intent to contest his claim on March 22, 1993. The claimant filed a Motion to Preclude based on the respondents’ failure to contest the matter within 28 days of January 22, 1993. See § 31-294c(b) C.G.S. The commissioner denied that motion on the ground that the claimant did not submit a proper notice of claim in accordance with § 31-294c(a).2 The claimant has appealed from that decision.

The claimant argues that § 31-294c requires nothing more than actual notice to the employer, which was provided via the Report of Occupational Injury. As we recently discussed in Bell v. Dow Corning STI, Inc., 13 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 109, 1777 CRB-4-93-7 (Jan. 30, 1995), we have retreated from our position in previous decisions that strict compliance with the notice requirements of § 31-294 is required in order for a notice of claim to support a § 31-297 Motion to Preclude. See Pereira v. State, 228 Conn. 535, 542-43 n.8 (1994). Now, the question has become “whether the notice of claim gave the employer sufficient notice to be able to investigate the claimant’s reported injury.” Bell, supra, 111. Although minor errors in a notice of claim will no longer prevent preclusion, the basic elements of a notice of claim must still be present in order to trigger the employer’s responsibility to investigate the claim promptly. See Simmons v. Philip Bonhotel, 1778 CRB-5-93-7 (decided April 13, 1995) (trial commissioner correctly denied Motion to Preclude, as date of injury in notice of claim was incorrect by over thirty days).

Here, the claimant filed a “Report of Occupational Injury or Disease to an Employee” that described his alleged psychological injury. The attached medical certificate, signed by the claimant’s treating physician, briefly noted that the claimant was unable to work at that time, and had been referred to a psychiatrist. Also attached was a form entitled “Request for Use of Accrued Leave With Workers’ Compensation,” which is dated January 25, 1993. It is unclear when the employer received the latter document, as the claimant supposedly turned in his report of injury on January 22, 1993.

Assuming that all of the above documents were received by the employer, it would still have been reasonable for the trial commissioner to conclude that they did not provide sufficient notice to allow the respondent to investigate this claim. In fact, no actual claim for compensation was filed by the claimant at all, and nothing was sent to this commission or to the commissioner of administrative services in accordance with § 31-294c(a). From the documents filed by the claimant, it is not clear whether he is seeking workers’ compensation, or merely reporting an injury to his employer. The date, place and time of the injury may be clear, but it is impossible to tell whether a claim is actually being made. See Hayden-Leblanc v. New London Broadcasting, 12 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 3, 4, 1373 CRD-2-92-1 (Jan. 5, 1994) (purpose of notice provision is to alert employer to fact that a person has sustained an injury and proposes to claim compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Act).

We do not think that the trial commissioner was required to grant the Motion to Preclude, because the notice content requirements of § 31-294c were not satisfied. Compare Yuknat v. State of Connecticut, 3 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 43, 274 CRD-2-83 (March 19, 1986), affirmed, 9 Conn. App. 425 (1987) (per curiam) (totality of claimant’s submission to employer gave all information required by § 31-294, so preclusion could lie). The commissioner’s decision to deny the Motion to Preclude is therefore affirmed, and the case is remanded to the Third District for further proceedings on the merits.

Commissioners Roberta S. D’Oyen and Amado J. Vargas concur.

1 A Motion to Preclude is a final judgment for purposes of appeal to this board. Bell v. Dow Corning STI, Inc., 13 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 109, 110, 1777 CRB-4-93-7 (Jan. 30, 1995). BACK TO TEXT

2 Section 31-294c(a) provides 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 . . . . Notice of a claim for compensation may be given to the employer or any commissioner and shall state, in simple language, the date and place of the accident and the nature of the injury resulting from the accident . . . and the name and address of the employee and of the person in whose interest compensation is claimed. An employee of the state shall send a copy of the notice to the commissioner of administrative services. . . .” BACK TO TEXT

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