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Augeri v. UTC/Pratt & Whitney

CASE NO. 3591 CRB-08-97-04

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

JUNE 3, 1998

LUCILLE AUGERI (Individually and as Executrix of the Estate of Ronald A. Augeri, Deceased)

CLAIMANT-APPELLANT

v.

UTC/PRATT & WHITNEY

EMPLOYER

and

ESIS, INC.

INSURER

RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES

APPEARANCES:

The claimant was represented by Robert Dutcher, Esq., Dzialo, Picklett & Allen, P.C., 200 Court St., Middletown, CT 06457.

The respondents were represented by James Pomeranz, Esq., Pomeranz, Drayton & Stabnick, 95 Glastonbury Blvd., Glastonbury, CT 06033.

This Petition for Review from the April 10, 1997 Ruling on Claimant’s Motion to Preclude of the Commissioner acting for the Eighth District was heard December 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 claimant has petitioned for review from the April 10, 1997 Ruling on Claimant’s Motion to Preclude of the Commissioner acting for the Eighth District. In that decision, the trial commissioner denied the claimant’s Motion to Preclude pursuant to § 31-294 C.G.S. In support of her appeal, the claimant contends that the commissioner erred by denying the Motion to Preclude. Specifically, the claimant contends that the employer’s Notice Contesting Liability (“Form 43”) was legally insufficient because it named the claimant’s deceased husband rather than the claimant dependent widow. We find no error.

The trial commissioner found the following relevant facts. The claimant alleges that her deceased husband (“decedent”) suffered from stress at work and sustained a compensable heart attack on February 20, 1995. She filed a Notice of Claim (“Form 30C”) on February 14, 1996. The Form 30C lists the decedent, Ronald A. Augeri, as the injured worker, along with his social security number, date of birth, and address. Under the section for the signature of the injured worker or representative, the claimant signed “Lucille Augeri, Executrix and Individually” and listed the same address as provided for the decedent. (Findings No. 4 and 5).

The respondent employer filed a Notice Contesting Liability (“Form 43”) on February 29, 1996 at the Middletown District Office. The respondent also mailed the Form 43 to the decedent 2’s address, which is also the claimant widow’s address. There is no dispute that the claimant widow actually received the Form 43. The trial commissioner found that the Form 43 clearly contests a prima facie case. (Findings 17-19). In support of her appeal, the claimant widow contends that the Form 43 is of no legal effect because it does not include the claimant widow’s name.

Whenever an employer contests a workers’ compensation claim, it is required to file notice stating “the name of the claimant, the name of the employer, the date of the alleged injury or death and the specific grounds on which the right to compensation is contested.” Section 31-294c C.G.S. The purpose of this requirement is to insure that employers promptly investigate claims and that employees are timely apprised of the specific reasons for their denial. Menzies v. Fisher, 165 Conn. 338, 343 (1973). As long as the specific substantive grounds for contesting liability are stated and a party is not prejudiced in its ability to maintain a claim, a Form 43 need not be technically perfect. Id., 345; White v. General Electric Co., 16 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 50, 3132 CRB-6-95-7 (Oct. 16, 1996).

In Duni v. UTC/Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, 14 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 137, 2052 CRB-1-94-5 (June 12, 1995), aff’d., 239 Conn. 19 (1996), the board addressed facts similar to the case at hand. Specifically, in Duni the employer’s Form 43 was addressed to the decedent employee rather than to the claimant surviving spouse. The board held that the proper standard of review is to “determine whether the [employer’s] notice to contest liability substantially complied with § 31-297(b) [now § 31-294c] and gave the claimants sufficient notice of the [employer’s] reasons for denying compensability.” Duni, supra, at 139 (quoting Walter v. State of Connecticut, 14 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 107, 1694 CRB-2-93-4 (June 2, 1995)). As the Form 43 was sent to the claimant surviving spouse, even though it named the decedent employee as the claimant, the board found no prejudice and affirmed the trial commissioner’s denial of the claimant’s Motion to Preclude. Id.

Similarly, in the instant case, the respondent’s Form 43 was sent to the correct address, and the claimant widow does not deny that she received said notice. The trial commissioner found that the claimant failed to present any evidence indicating that she suffered any prejudice. Moreover, the trial commissioner found that the notice provided by the respondent clearly contested the claimant’s claim. Under these circumstances, we affirm the trial commissioner’s denial of the Motion to Preclude. See Duni, supra; see also Walter, supra.

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/1998/3591crb.htm

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