State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
Home News RSS News QUICK Find Index Search E-Mail
General Information Glossary Law CRB Opinions Workers' Compensation Commission Downloadable Forms and Publications Links

Leonard v. City of Danbury

CASE NO. 3159 CRB-7-95-9

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

APRIL 14, 1997

HARRY LEONARD

CLAIMANT-APPELLANT

v.

CITY OF DANBURY

EMPLOYER

and

ROLLINS, HUDIG & HALL CO.

INSURER

RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES

APPEARANCES:

The claimant was represented by Brendan T. Canty, Esq., 10 Byington Place, Norwalk, CT 06850.

The respondents were represented by James D. Moran, Jr., Esq., Maher & Williams, 1300 Post Road, P. O. Box 550, Fairfield, CT 06430-0550.

This Petition for Review from the August 30, 1995 Finding and Dismissal of the Commissioner acting for the Seventh District was heard October 11, 1996 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman Jesse M. Frankl and Commissioners George A. Waldron and Robin L. Wilson.

OPINION

JESSE M. FRANKL, CHAIRMAN. The claimant has petitioned for review from the August 30, 1995 Finding and Dismissal of the Commissioner acting for the Seventh District. He argues on appeal that the commissioner misinterpreted the law in dismissing his workers’ compensation claim. We affirm the trial commissioner’s decision.

The claimant did not file a Motion to Correct in this case, so the facts are not in dispute. Seltenreich v. Stone & Webster Engineering Corp., 15 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 135, 136, 2196 CRB-3-94-10 (Jan. 17, 1996). The claimant, a longtime firefighter with the city of Danbury, allegedly suffered disabling head injuries when he fell in his driveway on February 25, 1994. At the close of a 14-hour shift, the claimant was driven by another firefighter to an auto repair garage, where he had to pick up his car. The claimant drove home in his car, parked in his driveway, and slipped on ice when he got out. The commissioner dismissed this claim, as the fall did not occur “in the course of a direct return from the place of duty to the place of abode.”

The relevant statute in this case is § 31-275(1)(A), which states that “[f]or a policeman and a fireman, ‘in the course of his employment’ shall encompass his departure from his place of abode to duty, his duty, and his return to his place of abode after duty.” The claimant argues that there is no requirement in this statute that a fireman return directly home after work, while the respondents contend that the necessary work nexus underlying § 31-275’s “portal-to-portal” coverage was severed by the claimant’s errand, as the inclusion of coverage during travel time presupposes that the firefighter is fulfilling the duties of his employment by traveling to or from work.

Generally, a personal injury sustained at home, or coming from or going to work, is not considered compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act. See, e.g., § 31-275(1)(E); Dombach v. Olkon Corp., 163 Conn. 216, 222 (1972). A statutory exception from this rule has been made for policemen and firefighters, presumably because of the emergency “on-call” nature of those professions and the urgency with which these employees are often summoned. See 1A Larson, Workmen’s Compensation Law, § 16.17, p. 4-208.44 (1996). This does not mean, however, that any departure during the trip to and from work is allowable as long as the claimant has not yet arrived home. Such a reading of the statute would make little sense, as a firefighter could engage in a frolic totally unrelated to his employment and still collect compensation if injured.

Although the statute does not specifically say so, we believe that a commissioner is entitled to decide whether a claimant’s diversion during his return home from work is significant enough to take him outside the statute, much as § 7-314 C.G.S. places limitations on the scope of “fire duties” for volunteer firefighters. There is no simple formula to determine whether a claimant’s trip home somehow takes him outside § 31-275(1)(A); instead, the commissioner must analyze the nature of the intervening events and the route traveled and make a factual finding as to the significance of the diversion. See Collins v. Milford, 15 Conn. App. 84, 89 (1988).

Here, the commissioner made subordinate findings which support his conclusion that the claimant did not return directly from work. We will not disturb that conclusion on review. Zane v. City of Danbury, 9 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 7, 8, 949 CRD-7-89-11 (Jan. 4, 1991). Therefore, we affirm the trial commissioner’s decision.

Commissioners George A. Waldron and Robin L. Wilson concur.

Workers’ Compensation Commission

Page last revised: June 13, 2005

Page URL: http://wcc.state.ct.us/crb/1997/3159crb.htm

Workers’ Compensation Commission Disclaimer, Privacy Policy and Website Accessibility

State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
Home News RSS News QUICK Find Index Search E-Mail
General Information Glossary Law CRB Opinions Workers' Compensation Commission Downloadable Forms and Publications Links