State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
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Phillips v. Siemens Rolm

CASE NO. 3751-CRB-07-97-12

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

DECEMBER 11, 1998

JOHN PHILLIPS

CLAIMANT-APPELLEE

v.

SIEMENS ROLM

EMPLOYER

RESPONDENT-APPELLANT

and

LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY

INSURER

and

TRAVELERS INSURANCE COMPANY

INSURER

RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES

APPEARANCES:

The claimant was represented by David Wise, Esq., Gellert & Cutler, 75 Washington Street, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601. By agreement counsel for the claimant waived his right to oral argument as to the specific issue under consideration in this appeal and agreed to have the matter decided on the basis of papers submitted.

The Respondent Employer was represented by Richard Solazzo, Esq., Cummings & Lockwood, Four Stamford Plaza, P.O. Box 120, Stamford, CT 06904-0120.CT. 06905 By agreement counsel for the respondent/employer waived its right to oral argument as to the specific issue under consideration in this appeal and agreed to have the matter decided on the basis of papers submitted.

The respondent Liberty Mutual Insurance Company was represented by James Sullivan, Esq., Maher & Williams, P.O. Box 550, Fairfield, CT 06430-0550 at the trial level. However as the issue before the Compensation Review Board and considered in this opinion did not involve the interests of the respondent, no one appeared at oral argument on its behalf.

The respondent Travelers Insurance Company was represented by Kenneth DeLorenzo, Esq., formerly of Law Offices of Christine Harrigan, presently known as Sizemore Law Offices, Crossroads Corporate Park, 6 Devine Street, North Haven, CT 06473Hartford, CT. 06103 at the trial level. However as the issue before the Compensation Review Board and considered in this opinion did not involve the interests of the respondent, no one appeared at oral argument on its behalf.

This Petition for Review from the December 9, 1997 Finding and Award of the Commissioner acting for the Seventh District was considered September 18, 1998 on the basis of papers submitted and limited to the issue of the amount of the fine imposed by the Commissioner pursuant to § 31-313 Connecticut General Statues. The matter was considered by a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman Jesse M. Frankl and Commissioners Michael S. Miles and Stephen B. Delaney.

OPINION

JESSE M. FRANKL, CHAIRMAN. The respondent-employer petitioned for review from the Commissioner acting for the Seventh District’s December 9, 1997 Finding and Award in this matter. One of the issues raised by the employer’s appeal is whether the trial commissioner’s imposition of a fine under § 31-313 in the amount of $350.00 per day for each day that the respondent employer violated § 31-313 was proper. This is the sole issue before us today.1

As to this issue, the respondent contends that the amount of the fine imposed by the trial commissioner is clearly in excess of his authority. We agree. As matters currently stand through the date of this hearing, the respondent-employer, pursuant to the commissioner’s ruling, is subject to a fine amount now in excess of $95,000. The trial commissioner cited as his authority for the imposition of the fine § 31-313. Sec. 31-313(c) provides:

(c) Whenever the commissioner finds that an employer has failed to comply with the transfer requirements of subdivision (1) of subsection (a) of this section, or has failed to comply with any transfer order issued by him pursuant to this section, he may assess a civil penalty of not more than five hundred dollars against the employer. Any appeal of a penalty assessed pursuant to this subsection shall be taken in accordance with the provisions of § 31-301. Any penalties collected under the provisions of this subsection shall be paid over to the Second Injury Fund or its successor. (emphasis ours)

Clearly the amount of the fine imposed by the trial commissioner exceeded the dollar limit set out in § 31-313(c). The language in § 31-313(c) could not be more clear.

While it is possible that in some cases the legislature has not said what it meant, nevertheless, when statutory language is clear and unambiguous we must presume that it meant what it said. . “It is well settled that a statute must be applied as its words direct.” (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) All Brand Importers, Inc. v. Dept. of Liquor Control, 213 Conn. 184, 194, 567 A.2d 1156 (1989); Pascarelli v. Moliterno Stone Sales, Inc., 44 Conn. App. 397, 400, 689 A.2d 1132, cert. denied, 240 Conn. 926, 692 A.2d 1282 (1997).

Trankovich v. Frenish, Inc. 47 Conn. App. 628, 631 (1998).

We therefore reverse and vacate that portion of the trial commissioner’s December 9, 1997 Finding and Award insofar as it levies a penalty in excess of that permitted by § 31-313(c). Under these circumstances, it appears that the only calculable means of carrying out the trial commissioner’s intention is to modify the amount of the fine consistent with the § 31-313(c). We therefore modify the amount of the fine imposed by the trial commissioner and conclude that the penalty imposed should be $350.00 per day up to a maximum of $500.00 as permitted by § 31-313(c).

Commissioners Michael S. Miles and Stephen B. Delaney concur.

1 There are other issues presented for review by the respondent’s Petition For Review, but as noted above the only issue considered in this opinion is whether the trial commissioner’s imposition of a penalty in the amount of $350.00 per day for each day the respondent violated § 31-313 was proper. The remaining issues will be considered by the Compensation Review Board at a later date. BACK TO TEXT

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