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Hurley v. City of Bridgeport/Police Dept.

CASE NO. 3435 CRB-4-96-9

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

JANUARY 20, 1998

TIMOTHY HURLEY

CLAIMANT-APPELLANT

v.

CITY OF BRIDGEPORT/POLICE DEPT.

EMPLOYER

SELF-INSURED

RESPONDENT-APPELLEE

APPEARANCES:

The claimant was represented by Daniel Brennan, Jr., Esq., 4 Daniel Farms Road, Trumbull, CT 06611-3938.

The respondents were represented by Jason M. Dodge, Esq., Pomeranz, Drayton & Stabnick, 95 Glastonbury Blvd., Glastonbury, CT 06033-4412.

This Petition for Review from the September 10, 1996 Finding and Dismissal of the Commissioner acting for the Fourth District was heard May 23, 1997 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman Jesse M. Frankl and Commissioners James J. Metro and John A. Mastropietro.

OPINION

JESSE M. FRANKL, CHAIRMAN. The claimant has petitioned for review from the September 10, 1996 Finding and Dismissal of the Commissioner acting for the Fourth District. He argues on appeal that the trier erred by finding that he had failed to prove a repetitive trauma injury. We affirm the trial commissioner’s decision.1

First, we note that the respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground that the claimant’s petition for review was filed in an untimely manner. According to § 31-301(a) C.G.S. and the case law interpreting that statute, a party has ten days from the date meaningful notice of the commissioner’s decision was sent within which to appeal that decision. Freeman v. Hull Dye & Print, Inc., 39 Conn. App. 717, 720 (1995); Conaci v. Hartford Hospital, 36 Conn. App. 298, 303 (1994). Notice of the trier’s decision was sent to all parties on Tuesday, September 10, 1996; the claimant’s petition for review was not received by the Fourth District office until Monday, September 23, 1996.

The claimant’s attorney submitted an affidavit stating that he prepared the appeal petition on Friday, September 20, 1996, but was unable to reach the Fourth District office until after 5:00 P.M. on that date due to traffic conditions. The business hours of this Commission were 8:15 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. EST at that time, so claimant’s counsel slid the envelope containing the appeal petition under the door of the office. Of course, the contents of the envelope were not opened and date-stamped until the following Monday morning. While we sympathize with claimant’s counsel, the delivery of a document to a state office that has already closed for the business day is not equivalent to the delivery of a document during normal business hours. In order to properly consider this appeal, this board had to receive a petition for review by the close of business on Friday, September 20, 1996. Because that was not done, this board lacks jurisdiction to entertain the claimant’s appeal. Thus, we must grant the respondent’s Motion to Dismiss.

We also note that the claimant’s appeal would not have been successful on the merits. The claimant sought to overturn the trier’s decision that the medical evidence established a January 1972 work accident as the cause of his post-traumatic stress disorder rather than a repetitive trauma claim with a May 1989 injury date. It is axiomatic that this board may not disturb factual findings unless they lack any support in the evidence or unless they omit material and undisputed facts. Webb v. Pfizer, Inc., 14 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 69, 71, 1859 CRB-5-93-9 (May 12, 1995). Whether a claimant has suffered a repetitive trauma injury rather than an injury attributable to a specific time or place is a question of fact. See Prescott v. Echlin, Inc., 14 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 191, 193, 2029 CRB-3-94-4 (July 13, 1995).

The medical reports of Dr. Chiles (Claimant’s Exhibit A) and Dr. D’Apice (Claimant’s Exhibit B) specifically stated that the cause of the claimant’s PTSD was a “catastrophic” event that occurred on January 29, 1972. Although some of the evidence reflects that the claimant’s condition “waxed and waned” over his employment period (see Respondent’s Exhibit 3), the trier was not thus compelled to conclude that the claimant had suffered a repetitive trauma injury. After reviewing the evidence, she found that the claimant’s injury was directly attributable to a single incident. We would be stepping outside the bounds of our powers of review on appeal to disturb that finding. See Fair v. People’s Savings Bank, 207 Conn. 535, 539 (1988); Webb, supra, 70-71. The trier’s decision is based on her interpretation of the medical reports and testimony, and we would affirm that decision on review.

The claimant’s appeal is hereby dismissed.

Commissioners James J. Metro and John A. Mastropietro concur.

1 This board previously addressed this case in Hurley v. Bridgeport, 14 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 366, 2037 CRB-4-94-5 (Sept. 26, 1995), where we affirmed the original trial commissioner’s decision that the claimant suffered a 10% permanent partial disability of the brain with no total disability pursuant to § 31-307 C.G.S. BACK TO TEXT

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