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Doyle v. City of New Haven

CASE NO. 3038 CRB-3-95-4

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

JANUARY 3, 1997

JOHN DOYLE

CLAIMANT-APPELLEE

v.

CITY OF NEW HAVEN

EMPLOYER

SELF-INSURED

RESPONDENT-APPELLANT

APPEARANCES:

The claimant was represented by Thomas Farver, Esq., Farver & DeMarco, 2842 Old Dixwell Ave., Hamden, CT 06518. The claimant waived oral argument and relied on papers.

The respondent was represented by Steven Samalot, Esq., Assistant Corporate Counsel, City of New Haven, 165 Church St., P.O. Box 1790, New Haven, CT 06510.

This Petition for Review from the March 30, 1995 Finding and Award of the Commissioner acting for the Third District was heard March 15, 1996 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman Jesse M. Frankl and Commissioners Robin L. Wilson and Michael S. Miles.

OPINION

JESSE M. FRANKL, CHAIRMAN. The respondent has petitioned for review from the March 30, 1995 Finding and Award of the Commissioner acting for the Third District. It argues on appeal that the commissioner erroneously found that the claimant’s dental care was compensable. We affirm the trial commissioner’s decision.

The claimant suffered a compensable injury to his mouth and teeth on October 28, 1970, when he was struck in the mouth with the nozzle of a hose while fighting a house fire. The claimant required a bridge implant over his front teeth as a result. In 1984, the claimant noticed that his gums had begun to recede, and his dentist, Dr. Crouse, recommended treatment. The respondent accepted that treatment, and paid the attendant expenses. By 1993, the claimant was having further trouble with upper front teeth and gums. Dr. Crouse believed that the condition resulted from the original mouth injury, which had traumatized the bone surrounding the incisor to which the bridge had been attached. The doctor recommended a bridge replacement.

The respondent had that recommendation reviewed by Dr. Morris, who did not examine the claimant, but reviewed certain medical reports and x-rays. He believed that the claimant’s condition was caused by non-work related factors such as his age, dental disease, negligent treatment, and improper dental hygiene, rather than the 1970 injury. A third dentist, Dr. Golia, examined the claimant on behalf of the respondent, and agreed that a bridge replacement was necessary. He was also unable to say that the claimant’s conditions were related to the 1970 injury. The commissioner noted that Dr. Crouse, who had performed six cleanings on the claimant and other dental care since 1989, disagreed with Dr. Morris’ diagnosis of extensive periodontal disease, but agreed that it was present in his upper front teeth. Due to other compensable injuries to the claimant’s shoulder and cervical spine, Dr. Crouse believed that the claimant was unable to receive dental treatment for approximately one year.

After reviewing the evidence, the trial commissioner concluded that Dr. Crouse’s testimony was persuasive, and that his explanation of the long-term effects of the traumatic injury was more consistent than that of Dr. Morris. He accepted Dr. Crouse’s opinion that the conditions mentioned by Dr. Morris were merely incidental factors in the claimant’s need for a new bridge, and that the major cause of his condition was the 1970 compensable injury. Finding Dr. Crouse’s past and projected future treatment reasonable, the commissioner ordered that the respondent pay Dr. Crouse’s medical bills. The respondent has petitioned for review from that decision.

The respondent argues on appeal that the commissioner’s reliance on Dr. Crouse’s opinion was improper, as his testimony was contrary to the facts. Because the respondent did not file a Motion to Correct, the commissioner’s factual findings must remain intact, and are presumed valid. Bell v. U.S. Home Health Care Certified of Connecticut, 13 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 294, 295, 1792 CRB-1-93-8 (April 21, 1995) aff’d., 40 Conn. App. 934 (1996) (per curiam). Legally, those findings provide direct and sufficient support for the commissioner’s conclusion that Dr. Crouse’s treatment is reasonable and related to the claimant’s compensable injury. See Crochiere v. Board of Education, 227 Conn. 333, 347 (1993). We also note that Dr. Crouse’s testimony is consistent with the commissioner’s findings. See, e.g., March 22, 1995 Tr., p. 36. As the trial commissioner is the arbiter of the credibility battle among medical expert witnesses, he was perfectly free to accept Dr. Crouse’s opinion as the most believable. Webb v. Pfizer, Inc., 14 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 69, 70, 1859 CRB-5-93-9 (May 12, 1995).1

The trial commissioner’s decision is affirmed.

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

1 The commissioner entered an order pursuant to § 31-301(f) against the Second Injury Fund to pay Dr. Crouse’s bills pending the outcome of this appeal. If said payment has been made, the respondent is required to repay the Fund in the manner prescribed in § 31-301(g) C.G.S. BACK TO TEXT

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