State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
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Ferrin v. Glen Orne Leasing/Webster Trucking

CASE NO. 4802 CRB-8-04-4

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

MARCH 28, 2005

GORDON FERRIN

CLAIMANT-APPELLANT

v.

GLEN ORNE LEASING/WEBSTER TRUCKING

EMPLOYER

and

CAMBRIDGE INTEGRATED SERVICES GROUP, INC.

INSURER

RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES

APPEARANCES:

The claimant appeared pro se.

The respondents were represented by Jonathan M. Zajac, Esq., P. O. Box 699, Avon, CT 06001-0699.

This Petition for Review from the March 19, 2004 Finding and Memorandum Re: Forms 36 of the Commissioner acting for the First District was heard November 19, 2004 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman John A. Mastropietro, and Commissioners A. Thomas White, Jr. and Charles F. Senich.

OPINION

JOHN A. MASTROPIETRO, CHAIRMAN. The appellant, Gordon Ferrin, has appealed from the March 19, 2004 Finding and Memorandum Re: Forms 36 of the Commissioner acting for the First District. We affirm the decision of the trial commissioner.

On or about February 26, 2003 the claimant sustained a contusion/sprain to his mid back as a result of a fall at work. On March 3, 2003, the claimant sought treatment at the Manchester Memorial Hospital complaining of shortness of breath and back pain. The following day he was seen by Dr. Harlan Barber, of Corp Care. Dr. Barber examined the claimant, noted his history of hypertension and his two packs a day cigarette smoking habit. Dr. Barber informed the claimant that he was to remain out of work for three days but could return to modified duty thereafter.

Dr. Barber referred the claimant to Dr. James Mazzara for an orthopedic evaluation. On March 14, 2003, Dr. Mazzara examined the claimant and also indicated the claimant was capable of modified duty work. The claimant returned to Corp Care on March 25, 2003 and April 2, 2003 and each time a physician advised that he was capable of modified work duty.

On April 9, 2003 the claimant was examined by Dr. William Druckemiller, a neurosurgeon. Dr. Druckemiller concluded that the claimant suffered a localized sprain and contusion but was capable of modified light work duty as long as he did not engage in repetitive or heavy lifting. The following day the claimant returned to Corp Care where he was examined by Dr. Alexander Smith. Dr. Smith concluded the claimant was unable to work on the basis of the claimant’s complaint that he was in too much pain to work. See Deposition of Dr. Alexander Smith, pp. 31-32.

The respondents filed three Forms 36 dated April 7, 2003, May 29, 2003 and July 18, 2003 in which they put the claimant on notice of their intent to reduce/discontinue his benefits. Proceedings were held before the trial commissioner who ultimately concluded that the claimant was not totally disabled but had a modified work capacity and therefore approved the Forms 36. As part of his March 19, 2004 Finding and Memorandum Re: Forms 36, the trial commissioner ordered the respondents to pay medical benefits related to the February 26, 2003 injury. The trier also concluded that the claimant suffered from various medical problems, none of which were related to claimant’s compensable back injury. The claimant filed this appeal.

We note that the claimant argued before the trial commissioner and before this board that he is unable to work due to his pain. He also contended that the reports of the doctors are false and that in the course of Dr. Druckemiller’s examination, Dr. Druckemiller performed a “chiropractic move” to the claimant’s back which greatly enhanced his pain. Findings, ¶ 15.

The claimant appears pro se before this tribunal as he did at the trial level, “[I]t is the established policy of the Connecticut courts to be solicitous of pro se litigants and when it does not interfere with the rights of other parties to construe the rules of practice liberally in favor of the pro se party.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Vanguard Engineering, Inc. v. Anderson, 83 Conn. App. 62, 65, 848 A.2d 545 (2004). See also McCarthy v. AT&T Communications, Inc., 3689 CRB-6-97-9 (August 7, 1998). Although the claimant did not provide a document captioned as his reasons of appeal, the claimant sent a letter to this board dated April 4, 2004 in which he sets out his various claims of error.1

The claimant’s alleged errors appear to attack the trial commissioner’s factual findings.2 We note that the claimant has failed to file a Motion to Correct the trial commissioner’s findings. Where there is no Motion to Correct on review we are limited to the trial commissioner’s existing factual findings. Kelley v. Venezia Transport Services, 4184 CRB-2-00-2 (March 8, 2001); Mitchell v. J.B. Retail Inventory Specialists, 3458 CRB-2-96-10 (March 31, 1998).

However, even with the filing of a timely Motion to Correct, we most likely would reach the same conclusion we reach today. In a workers’ compensation case the claimant has the burden of proof to show the injury was causally related to the workplace and to accomplish this the claimant must present evidence that a commissioner will find sufficiently credible to support a finding in the claimant’s favor. Keenan v. Union Camp Corporation, 49 Conn. App. 280, 282 (1998); Paige v. Hartford Insurance Co., 4594 CRB-2-02-12 (January 9, 2004). Here, the trial commissioner found that the claimant’s testimony was not credible or persuasive. The claimant did not provide medical evidence that the trier found credible enough to substantiate his claim of total disability. The respondents provided evidence from various medical providers which indicated that the claimant has a modified work capacity. The trial commissioner had the discretion to find this medical evidence credible and therefore approve the respondents Forms 36.

For these reasons, we affirm the March 19, 2004 Finding and Memorandum Re: Forms 36 of the Commissioner acting for the First District.

Commissioners A. Thomas White, Jr. and Charles F. Senich concur.

1 Additionally, the claimant filed another letter with this board on November 19, 2004, the date of oral argument in this case. This letter alleges errors in the trial commissioner’s factual findings. Generally, he alleges that the trial commissioner erred in finding the claimant was not totally disabled. We note that there are two attachments to the November 19, 2004 letter. One document is a page from a deposition that is already in evidence. Deposition of Dr. Alexander Smith, Respondent’s Exhibit 15. The other document appears to be a form letter presumably from the claimant’s group health insurer. The claimant has not filed a Motion to Submit Additional Evidence nor has he explained the relevance of these documents to his case. BACK TO TEXT

2 The claimant generally alleges that it was error to deny him wage replacement benefits, medical treatment and payment for prescriptions. He alleges that the trial commissioner incorrectly determined that he merely suffered from a contusion/sprain of the back. The claimant claims that he is totally disabled from his work related injury. BACK TO TEXT

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