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Keating v. UTC/Pratt & Whitney Aircraft

CASE NO. 3059 CRB-2-95-5

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

DECEMBER 20, 1996

FOSTER KEATING

CLAIMANT-APPELLEE

v.

UTC/PRATT & WHITNEY AIRCRAFT

EMPLOYER

and

CIGNA PROPERTY & CASUALTY CO.

INSURER

RESPONDENTS-APPELLANTS

APPEARANCES:

The claimant was represented by Robert Fitzgerald, Esq., Fitzgerald & Prucker, 1127 Tolland Turnpike, Suite 101, Manchester, CT 06040.

The respondents were represented by Stephen Ekern, Esq., Pomeranz, Drayton & Stabnick, 95 Glastonbury Blvd., Glastonbury, CT 06033.

This Petition for Review from the May 2, 1995 Finding and Award of the Commissioner acting for the Second District was heard May 24, 1996 before a Compensation Review Board Panel consisting of the Commission Chairman Jesse M. Frankl and Commissioners George Waldron and Robin L. Wilson.

OPINION

JESSE M. FRANKL, CHAIRMAN. The respondents have filed a petition for review from the May 2, 1995 Finding and Award by the trial commissioner acting for the Second District. In that decision, the trial commissioner concluded that the claimant sustained a myocardial infarction on November 27, 1991 and November 28, 1991 which arose out of and during the course of his employment. In support of their appeal, the respondents contend that the conclusion that the claimant’s injury arose out of and in the course of his employment was based upon insufficient medical evidence and impermissible factual inferences. Specifically, the respondents contend that the claimant had numerous cardiac risk factors which were not related to his employment, and that the medical evidence does not support a conclusion that factors relating to his employment caused his heart attack. We find no error on the part of the trial commissioner.

Whether the trier erred in finding that 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). The Connecticut Supreme Court has defined the necessary causal connection between injury and employment as follows: “The causal connection required to be established is that the employment was the proximate cause of the injury...” McDonough v. Connecticut Bank & Trust Co., 204 Conn. 104, 117 (1987) (quoting Madore v. New Departure Mfg. Co., 104 Conn. 709, 713 (1926)). In determining proximate cause, we employ a “substantial factor” analysis. Id.

In the instant case, there was ample evidence presented at the formal hearing to support the trial commissioner’s conclusion that the claimant sustained a myocardial infarction on November 27, 1991 and November 28, 1991 which was caused by physical exertion and emotional stress1 at work. Specifically, Dr. Cohen, a cardiologist, opined “with reasonable medical probability (that) the chronic work stress contributed significantly to the onset of the myocardial infarction.” (Finding No. 26; see also Deposition of Dr. Cohen at p. 26). In addition, Dr. McDowell, a cardiologist, opined that the claimant’s physical exertions at work on November 27, 1991, which included climbing a ladder and carrying equipment, could have caused the myocardial infarction, but that “even without the physical exertion the non-physical work related stress was enough to cause the heart attack.” (Finding No. 20).

“We may not disturb the commissioner’s conclusions which are dependent on the weight and credibility accorded the evidence. 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), see also Cummings v. Twin Tool Mfg. Co., 40 Conn. App. 36,44 (1996). The trial commissioner’s determination that the claimant’s myocardial infarction was substantially caused by his employment is amply supported by the evidence and was neither based on impermissible or unreasonable factual inferences nor contrary to law. Accordingly, it must stand. Fair, supra, at 539.

In further support of their appeal, the respondents contend that the trial commissioner erroneously references a “Dr. Monahan.” However, this reference in Finding No. 11 appears to be merely a typographical error, as there was no evidence submitted from a Dr. Monahan, but there was evidence submitted from a Dr. Monahar. We find this error to be harmless, as even the respondents admit that the trial commissioner “does not appear to rely on either Dr. Monahar or ‘Dr. Monahan’ with regards to the etiology of the heart attack.” (Respondents’ Brief at p. 12).

The trial commissioner’s decision is affirmed.

Commissioners George Waldron and Robin L. Wilson concur.

1 See March 2, 1994 Transcript at pages 15, 27, 59 and 72-73. BACK TO TEXT

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