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Distiso v. Town of Southington

CASE NO. 3073 CRB-6-95-6

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

NOVEMBER 13, 1996

JOHN DISTISO

CLAIMANT-APPELLEE

v.

TOWN OF SOUTHINGTON

EMPLOYER

RESPONDENT-APPELLANT

APPEARANCES:

The claimant was represented by David J. Morrissey, Esq., 203 Church St., Naugatuck, CT 06770.

The employer was represented by John Kania, Esq., Kelley, Crispino & Kania, 25 Berlin Ave., Southington, CT 06489.

The employer was also represented by Nicholas J. Grello, Esq., Siegel, O’Connor, Schiff & Zangar, P.C., 370 Asylum St., Hartford, CT 06103.

This Petition for Review from the May 30, 1995 Finding and Award of the Commissioner acting for the Sixth District was heard May 10, 1996 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of Commissioners George Waldron, Robin L. Wilson and Michael S. Miles.

OPINION

GEORGE WALDRON, COMMISSIONER. The employer has petitioned for review from the May 30, 1995 Finding and Award of the Commissioner acting for the Sixth District. In that decision, the trial commissioner concluded that the employer was required pursuant to § 31-284b to maintain continuing group health and life insurance for the claimant, a retired police officer, at the same amount and in the same manner as had been provided at the time of the injury. In support of its appeal, the employer contends that the employer should only be required to provide group health insurance coverage in an amount equivalent to that currently provided for active employees. We find no error.

The facts are not in dispute. On October 25, 1984, the claimant sustained an injury to his cardiovascular system, reached maximum medical improvement on August 21, 1990, and received permanent partial disability benefits through February 21, 1993. On February 22, 1993, the claimant suffered a heart attack, and subsequently received temporary total disability benefits. At the time of the claimant’s injury in 1984 the employer provided health insurance without any contributions from employees. Subsequently, pursuant to collective bargaining agreements, the employer required employees to contribute four percent toward the cost of premiums for health insurance effective June 1, 1994. The employer argues that this four percent contribution requirement should apply to the claimant.

Section 31-284b1 provides in pertinent part: “In order to maintain, as nearly as possible, the income of employees who suffer employment-related injuries, any employer who provides accident and health insurance or life insurance coverage for any employee... shall provide to the employee equivalent insurance coverage... while the employee is eligible to receive or is receiving compensation pursuant to this chapter.” This board has held that “(t)he extent of Sec. 31-284 benefits are fixed at the time of claimant’s compensable injury as are all other benefits under chapter 568.” Leroux v. United Parcel Service, 9 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 101, 102, 937 CRD-7-89-11 (March 7, 1991) (citing Chieppo v. Robert E. McMichael, Inc., 169 Conn. 646, 649 (1975)).

The trial commissioner found that the employer’s requirement that the claimant contribute four percent of the premium for health insurance resulted in benefits which were not the equivalent of the benefits he was receiving at the time of injury. (Finding No. 11). Accordingly, the trial commissioner ordered the employer to provide the claimant with benefits in the same amount and in the same manner as was provided in 1984. We recognize the employer’s argument that this determination results in the claimant’s receiving health insurance benefits with no contribution requirements, whereas active police officers are required to contribute to their health insurance premiums. However, the trial commissioner’s determination is supported by the language of § 31-284 which requires “equivalent insurance coverage.” See Leroux, supra; see also Deschnow v. Stamford, 214 Conn. 394 (1990). Moreover, as the employer has not filed a motion to correct, the findings of fact made by the trial commissioner must stand. Colucci v. Mattatuck Manufacturing Co., 9 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 234, 1000 CRD-5-90-4 (Oct. 30, 1991).

We next turn to the employer’s contention that the trial commissioner improperly ruled on the issue of life insurance benefits. The employer has not provided a transcript of the formal hearing, nor has the employer filed a motion to correct. Moreover, the employer has not provided any citation to any authority on this issue. Accordingly, we will not address it at this time.

The trial commissioner’s decision is affirmed and the employer’s appeal is dismissed.

Commissioners Robin L. Wilson and Michael S. Miles concur.

1 Section 31-284b has been interpreted to apply only to state and municipal employers, but not to private employers, pursuant to a Connecticut Supreme Court order dated April 27, 1993, Luis v. Frito-Lay, Inc., S.C. (14536). BACK TO TEXT

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