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Jaworski v. Four Seasons Limousine

CASE NO. 2200 CRB-7-94-11

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

SEPTEMBER 5, 1996

RICHARD JAWORSKI

CLAIMANT-APPELLANT

v.

FOUR SEASONS LIMOUSINE

EMPLOYER

and

GREATER NEW YORK MUTUAL INSURANCE CO.

INSURER

RESPONDENTS/APPELLEES

APPEARANCES:

The claimant appeared on his own behalf.

The respondents were represented by Edward O’Brien, Esq., 103 Woodland St., Hartford, CT 06105.

This Petition for Review from the October 26, 1994 Finding and Dismissal of the Commissioner acting for the Seventh District was heard October 27, 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 claimant has petitioned for review from the trial commissioner’s October 26, 1994 decision denying the claimant’s request to reopen an approved stipulation. In support of his appeal, the claimant contends that at the time he signed the stipulation his medical diagnosis was a lumbar strain, but that subsequently a new medical diagnosis indicated a lumbar disc problem which requires surgery. We affirm the trial commissioner.

The claimant in the instant case signed a voluntary stipulation1 regarding a contested claim on December 11, 1990 which was approved by a commissioner on December 24, 1990. In that stipulation, the claimant agreed to accept $19,500.00 as “a full, final and complete settlement, accord and satisfaction of any claim for compensation or medical expenses past, present and future....” The stipulation further provided:

It is understood and agreed that before the claimant signed this stipulation, he read the same or the same was explained to him and he understands that it is a full and final settlement, and that he will not and cannot in the future make any claim for the condition known or unknown at this time, or which may be developed and be claimed to be connected with the aforesaid injury.

Subsequently, the claimant made a request to reopen the voluntary stipulation, and formal hearings were held on that issue by the trial commissioner for the Seventh District. The trial commissioner concluded that the claimant was represented by legal counsel when he executed the stipulation and that the claimant read and understood the stipulation. The trial commissioner further found that the claimant’s testimony was less than credible, and that there was “no credible evidence presented that claimant’s new diagnoses are causally connected to a work-related injury....” (Finding 21-23). The trial commissioner thus denied the claimant’s request to reopen the stipulation.

“[A]n Award by Stipulation is a binding award which, on its terms, bars a further claim for compensation unless Sec. 31-3152, which allows for modification, is satisfied.” Mongillo v. Terminal Taxi Co., 12 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 197, 199, 1455 CRB-3-92-7 (March 7, 1994) (citations omitted). We have stated that the decision whether to open a stipulated agreement falls within the trier’s discretion and will be overturned “only if such discretion was abused or if an unreasonable result was reached.” Gonzalez v. Electric Transport (Penske), 13 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 6, 1729 CRB-1-93-5 (Oct. 13, 1994) (citation omitted).

In support of his appeal, the claimant argues that the medical opinion by Dr. Kavanagh dated July 8, 1992 (Claimant’s Exhibit No. 6) indicates that his diagnosis of a disc condition and need for surgery is causally related to his workers’ compensation claim. We have consistently held that it “is the trial commissioner, as the trier of facts, who determines with finality the credibility of the witnesses and the weight to be accorded their testimony.” Miller v. TVCCA, 12 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 348, 349, 1675 CRB-2-93-3 (July 29, 1994) (citations omitted). Moreover, a trial commissioner has the “right to reject testimony even if seemingly uncontradicted.” Colucci v. Mattatuck Manufacturing Co., 9 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 234, 235, 1000 CRD-5-90-4 (Oct. 30, 1991); see also Cummings v. Twin Tool Mfg. Co., 40 Conn. App. 36, 44 (1996).

In the instant case, the commissioner’s conclusion that the claimant did not have sufficient reason pursuant to §31-315 C.G.S. to reopen the approved voluntary stipulation is amply supported by the record.

The commissioner ’s decision is affirmed, and the claimant’s appeal is dismissed.

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

1 The trial commissioner took judicial notice of the stipulation. (3/23/93 Transcript at p.11, 16-17). BACK TO TEXT

2 Section 31-315 provides, in pertinent part, that an award or voluntary agreement may be modified “whenever it appears to the compensation commissioner, after notice and hearing thereon, that the incapacity of an injured employee has increased, decreased or ceased... or that changed conditions of fact have arisen which necessitate a change of such agreement or award in order properly to carry out the spirit of this chapter. The commissioner shall also have the same power to open and modify an award as any court of the state has to open and modify a judgment of such court.” BACK TO TEXT

Workers’ Compensation Commission

Page last revised: May 11, 2005

Page URL: http://wcc.state.ct.us/crb/1996/2200crb.htm

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