CASE NO. 4388 CRB-4-01-5
COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION
OCTOBER 22, 2001
PHILIP M. NAPOLITANO, JR.
CITY OF BRIDGEPORT
The claimant appeared pro se at oral argument on the motion of his attorney to withdraw as counsel.
The claimant’s counsel, David J. Morrissey, Esq., appeared in support of his own motion to withdraw. Notice sent to 203 Church Street, P. O. Box 31, Naugatuck, CT 06770.
The respondent was represented by Jean D. Molloy, Esq., Montstream & May, L.L.P., Salmon Brook Corporate Park, 655 Winding Brook Drive, P. O. Box 1087, Glastonbury, CT 06033-6087.
This Motion to Withdraw As Counsel, which has arisen following two Petitions for Review from the May 4, 2001 Finding and Award of the Commissioner acting for the Fourth District, was heard July 20, 2001 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman John A. Mastropietro and Commissioners George A. Waldron and Ernie R. Walker.
JOHN A. MASTROPIETRO, CHAIRMAN. This matter arises ancillary to petitions for review that the claimant and respondents have each filed from the May 4, 2001 Finding and Award of the Commissioner acting for the Fourth District. The claimant’s attorney, David J. Morrissey, Esq., filed a timely appeal on behalf of his client on May 10, 2001, following the commissioner’s Finding and Award. He then filed a Motion to Withdraw As Counsel for the claimant on May 15, 2001, which is the sole issue before us here. In his Motion to Withdraw, Attorney Morrissey represents that his attorney-client relationship with the claimant has irretrievably broken down. Contemporaneous with that motion, he filed on behalf of the claimant a Motion for Extension of Time to file Reasons of Appeal and a Motion to Correct, in order to protect his client’s right on appeal and to allow him time to retain new counsel. Both of those requests were granted, and oral argument was scheduled before this board on the Motion to Withdraw.
At oral argument, Attorney Morrissey explained that he had represented the claimant on his claim against the city of Bridgeport. One of the issues in this claim was the amount of permanency that the claimant had suffered to his heart. While his authorized treating physician had assessed a 25-35% permanent partial disability, both an independent medical examiner and a § 31-294f commissioner’s examiner diagnosed a 5% permanent loss of use of the heart. The trial commissioner accepted the lower figures as more credible, and awarded the claimant a 5% permanency rating. Citing attorney-client privilege, Attorney Morrissey declined to raise specific points of contention between himself and the claimant, though he confirmed that the claimant’s desire to appeal this finding is related to the breakdown of their relationship. Based upon the statements of both Attorney Morrissey and the claimant, there indeed appears to be a lack of confidence and trust in their current relationship.
In order for counsel to function effectively as an advocate, there must be some semblance of a rapport between counsel and his client. If both individuals are wholly at odds with one another, the attorney is unlikely to be able to fulfill his designated role. The state of this attorney-client relationship is such that we believe the best course of action would be to allow counsel to withdraw his appearance in this case. Therefore, we grant the motion of Attorney Morrissey to remove himself as the claimant’s counsel.
Commissioners George A. Waldron and Ernie R. Walker concur.