CASE NO. 3539 CRB-07-97-02
COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION
MAY 4, 1998
NATHAN E. POTTS
CITY OF STAMFORD
RISK MANAGEMENT, INC.
The claimant was represented by Laurence V. Parnoff, Esq., 1566 Park Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06604.
The respondents were represented by William C. Brown, Esq., McGann, Bartlett, & Brown, 281 Hartford Tpke., Vernon, CT 06066.
This Petition for Review from the January 28, 1997 Order of the Commissioner acting for the Seventh District was heard September 19, 1997 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman Jesse M. Frankl and Commissioners James J. Metro and John A. Mastropietro.
JESSE M. FRANKL, CHAIRMAN. The claimant has petitioned for review from the January 28, 1997 Order of the Commissioner acting for the Seventh District. The trial commissioner fined the claimant’s counsel $100 for failing to appear at two pre-formal hearings on January 24, 1997 without a request for a continuance or a postponement. Counsel objects that he indeed faxed this Commission’s Stamford office a request to reschedule the hearings. He had found out the previous day that he had been ordered to appear in Superior Court on January 24th, and had been unable to reach the Stamford District office by telephone, although opposing counsel had been notified. The fax was apparently sent on January 23, 1997 by claimant’s counsel, a sole practitioner.
Section 31-288(b) allows the commissioner to fine a party for unreasonably, and without good cause, delaying the completion of hearings on a workers’ compensation claim. However, it is apparent from the commissioner’s order that he was unaware that the claimant’s counsel had requested a postponement of the January 24th proceedings. Notably, the fax was not stamped “received” by the district office until February 3, 1997. This piece of information would clearly have been material to the trial commissioner’s decision to fine counsel for missing the pre-formal hearings in question. Also, no hearing was held on the issue of the fine; the trial commissioner simply sent counsel a letter imposing the sanction. There is no evidentiary record to review, and a meaningful appeal is therefore impossible. See Palmateer v. Stop & Shop Companies, 14 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 277, 278, 2218 CRB-2-94-11 (Sept. 6, 1995). We thus reverse the commissioner’s order fining the claimant’s counsel $100.
Commissioners James J. Metro and John A. Mastropietro concur.