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Richard v. U.S. Repeating Arms

CASE NO. 3558 CRB-03-97-03

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

JUNE 1, 1998

DWIGHT RICHARD

CLAIMANT-APPELLANT

v.

U.S. REPEATING ARMS

EMPLOYER

and

EBI COMPANIES/ORION

INSURER

and

NATIONAL UNION FIRE INS. CO.

INSURER

RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES

APPEARANCES:

The claimant appeared pro se on appeal.

The respondent employer and EBI/Orion were represented by Jonathan Reik, Esq., McGann, Bartlett, & Brown, 281 Hartford Tpke., Vernon, CT 06066.

The respondent employer and National Union Fire Insurance were represented by James Hughes, Esq., McNamara & Kenney, 75 Kings Highway Cutoff, Fairfield, CT 06430.

This Petition for Review from the March 13, 1997 Finding and Dismissal of the Commissioner acting for the Third 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.

OPINION

JESSE M. FRANKL, CHAIRMAN. The pro se claimant has petitioned for review from the March 13, 1997 Finding and Dismissal of the Commissioner acting for the Fourth District. He argues on appeal that the trial commissioner erred by dismissing his claim for compensation. We affirm the trial commissioner’s decision.

We will begin by discussing the role of the Compensation Review Board in this case. When a trial commissioner hears a workers’ compensation case, it is her job to determine the facts of the case. This means that she must decide which party’s evidence and testimony is the most credible. Ettienne-Modeste v. Town of Bloomfield, 13 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 327, 328, 1789 CRB-1-93-9 (April 26, 1995). If she decides that a particular witness is not telling the truth, or that a particular doctor’s opinion is not very persuasive, it is within her discretion to disregard that evidence. The commissioner is free to choose one doctor’s opinion over any other doctor’s opinion. Jusiewicz v. Reliance Automotive, 3140 CRB-6-95-8 (decided Jan. 24, 1997).

When a decision of the trial commissioner is appealed to this board, we do not retry the facts of the case. Schiaroli v. UTC/Pratt & Whitney, 3555 CRB-3-97-3 (decided Dec. 30, 1997); Webb v. Pfizer, Inc., 14 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 69, 70-71, 1859 CRB-5-93-9 (May 12, 1995). We simply review the findings to determine if the commissioner found any facts that are unsupported by evidence in the record, or if she failed to include undisputed facts that would affect the outcome of the case. Webb, supra, 71. In order for us to review the findings, the party appealing the decision must have filed a Motion to Correct the findings with the trial commissioner. Schiaroli, supra; Seltenreich v. Stone & Webster Engineering Corp., 15 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 135, 136, 2196 CRB-3-94-10 (Jan. 17, 1996). A Motion to Correct gives the trial commissioner an opportunity to consider the changes in the factual findings that a party proposes should be made, and to rule on that request. See Admin. Reg. § 31-301-4.

In this case, the trial commissioner explicitly described the testimony of the claimant regarding an alleged injury to his neck that occurred on March 18, 1993, and an alleged back injury that occurred on or about August 11, 1993. She then noted that neither of those alleged injuries was corroborated by documentation that the claimant had reported such an injury to his employer, or by the medical reports of either Dr. Goodman, Dr. Christoforo, Dr. Siegel or Dr. Levy. The commissioner also found that “the claimant failed to produce any credible evidence that he has been totally disabled.” She concluded that the claimant did not sustain a work-related injury on either of the alleged dates, and did not find his neck and back conditions to be compensable.

The claimant appealed this decision, but did not file a Motion to Correct any of the findings. Without this motion, we do not have the authority to question any of the trial commissioner’s factual findings at all. Seltenreich, supra. Moreover, the claimant’s brief is essentially an attempt to reargue the facts of this case. As we stated above, that is not the role of this board on review. See Fair v. People’s Savings Bank, 207 Conn. 535, 539 (1988). The claimant was unsuccessful on his claim because the trial commissioner did not believe his version of the facts. There is nothing we could do on review to change that, even if a Motion to Correct had been filed.

The trial commissioner’s decision is affirmed.

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

Workers’ Compensation Commission

Page last revised: June 29, 2005

Page URL: http://wcc.state.ct.us/crb/1998/3558crb.htm

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