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Sellers v. Work Force One

CASE NO. 4807 CRB-5-04-5

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

MARCH 3, 2005

HEYWARD SELLERS

CLAIMANT-APPELLANT

v.

WORK FORCE ONE

EMPLOYER

and

HANOVER INSURANCE CO.

INSURER

RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES

APPEARANCES:

The claimant appeared pro se at oral argument.

The respondents, Work Force One and Hanover Insurance Co. were represented by Charlene M. Russo, Esq., Russo, LaRose & Bresnahan, P.O. Box 1002, 538 Preston Avenue, Meriden, CT 06450.

This Petition for Review from the April 29, 20041 Finding and Dismissal of the Commissioner acting for the Fifth District was heard December 17, 2004 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of Commissioners A. Thomas White, Jr., Charles Senich and Ernie R. Walker.

OPINION

A. THOMAS WHITE, JR., COMMISSIONER. This appeal results from the April 29, 2004 Finding and Dismissal of the Commissioner acting for the Fifth District. In that April 29, 2004 Finding and Dismissal the commissioner granted the Respondents Appellees’ Motion to Dismiss the claimant’s claim for depression on the basis of res judicata and collateral estoppel principles.

This tribunal recently issued its opinion Sellers v. Sellers Garage, Inc., 4762 CRB-5-03-12 (February 3, 2005). In that opinion we noted the procedural history of the claimant’s claims before the Compensation Review Board. See Sellers v. Sellers Garage, Inc., 4762 CRB-5-03-12 (February 3, 2005), note 2. However, in order to simplify our discussion here, we briefly summarize the claimant’s history of appeals before this tribunal and resulting opinions. The Compensation Review Board’s first appeal relating to the claimant’s claims was considered in our opinion in Sellers v. Sellers Garage, 4391 CRB-5-01-5 (April 26, 2002), [hereafter Sellers I]. In Sellers I, this tribunal reviewed issues raised by the claimant from Commissioner Donald Doyle’s May 9, 2001 Finding and Award. That appeal concerned claims stemming from claimant’s employment with Sellers Garage and Work Force One.

On September 25, 1995, when claimant was employed by Sellers Garage and while that entity was insured by Royal Insurance, the claimant suffered an injury to his right wrist and right shoulder. On November 14, 1995, the claimant suffered pain in his left wrist which was believed to be the result of overuse resulting from the September 25, 1995 injury to his right wrist. On March 21, 1997, again while in the employ of Sellers Garage and while Royal Insurance was the carrier, the claimant sustained a head injury when an automobile part fell on his head. Liability was accepted via a Voluntary Agreement.

On April 21, 1998 when in the employ of Work Force One and while Hanover Insurance was the carrier on the risk, the claimant complained of increased pain in his right wrist. The respondents, Work Force One and Hanover, disputed the claimant’s claim. Claims for benefits were sought for employment periods while both Royal Insurance and Hanover were on the risk. These claims were heard by Commissioner Donald Doyle and determined in his May 9, 2001 Finding and Award. Claims of error relating to that May 9, 2001 Finding and Award were considered by this tribunal in Sellers I. The CRB affirmed the findings and conclusion of the trial commissioner, Commissioner Doyle in Sellers I.

The claimant then appealed the Compensation Review Board’s opinion in Sellers I to the Appellate Court. The Appellate Court issued its decision in Sellers v. Sellers Garage, 80 Conn. App. 15 (2003) in which it affirmed the Compensation Review Board’s opinion in Sellers I. Following the Appellate Court’s ruling the claimant filed an appeal with the Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court declined to consider the appeal. See Sellers v. Sellers Garage, cert. denied, 267 Conn. 904 (2003).

On December 11, 2003 the Commissioner acting for the Fifth District issued a Finding and Dismissal in which the trial commissioner considered the claimant’s claim of having sustained a fifty per cent (50%) permanent partial disability to his brain. In this tribunal’s opinion in Sellers v. Sellers Garage, Inc., 4762 CRB-5-03-12 (February 3, 2005) [hereafter Sellers II] we affirmed the trial commissioner’s dismissal of the claimant’s claim for the fifty per cent (50%) permanent partial disability to his brain.

Following the commissioner’s December 11, 2003 Finding and Dismissal, the claimant filed a Form 30C seeking benefits due to depression for which he claimed the respondents were liable. An informal hearing was held and thereafter, the respondents sent a letter dated March 22, 2004 to the trial commissioner with a copy to the claimant indicating their position that the claim should be dismissed on the basis of res judicata and collateral estoppel. The respondents contended that the claimant’s claims for depression and erectile dysfunction were previously litigated and determined in Commissioner Doyle’s May 9, 2001 Finding and Award. The trial commissioner issued his April 29, 2004 Finding and Dismissal in which he concluded the claimant’s attempt to re-try the matter was barred under the legal principles of res judicata and collateral estoppel. The claimant filed this appeal challenging the commissioner’s April 29, 2004 Finding and Dismissal.

As this tribunal stated in Dunlevy v. Infra Metals Corp., 4626 CRB-8-03-2 (April 5, 2004):

Claim preclusion (res judicata) and issue preclusion (collateral estoppel) are related ideas on a continuum, differing mainly in degree. Crochiere v. Board of Education, 227 Conn. 333, 343 (1993); Schreiber v. Town & Country Auto Service, 4239 CRB-3-00-5 (June 15, 2001). The doctrine of claim preclusion prevents a party from relitigating a claim that has been decided on its merits. Crochiere, supra.” A judgment is final not only as to every matter which was offered to sustain the claim, but also as to any other admissible matter which might have been offered for that purpose.” Delahunty v. Massachusetts Mutual Life Ins. Co., 236 Conn. 582, 589 (1996); Schreiber, supra. Issue preclusion prevents a party from relitigating an issue that has been determined in a prior suit, as long as the issue has been fully and fairly litigated. Crochiere, supra. “Both claim and issue preclusion entail that a disputed factual matter, or a finding embodying an application of law to facts, has been conclusively determined in a previous action on a different claim involving the same parties or parties in privity with them.” Schreiber, supra (emphasis and footnote omitted). These preclusive principles further the interests of judicial economy and the finality of judgments, and are as applicable to adjudications by administrative tribunals as they are to judgments by courts. Lafayette v. General Dynamics Corp., 255 Conn. 762, 773 (2001); Bailey v. Willimantic Dodge/Nissan, 4516 CRB-2-02-4 (May 8, 2003).

Id.

There is no doubt that the claims of depression and associated erectile dysfunction were litigated in Commissioner Donald Doyle’s May 9, 2001 Finding and Award. See paragraphs 45-51, S-T,2 May 9, 2001 Finding and Award. In his May 9, 2001 Finding and Award, the trial commissioner determined that neither Royal Insurance nor Hanover Insurance were liable for these claims.

We therefore affirm the April 29, 2004 Finding and Dismissal of the Commissioner acting for the Fifth District.

Commissioners Charles Senich and Ernie R. Walker concur.

1 This matter was originally scheduled to be heard as a companion case to Sellers v. Sellers Garage, 4762 CRB-5-03-12 (February 3, 2005). At the request of the claimant the matters were heard at different times. We also note that at the request of the claimant-appellant, extensions of time were granted in this matter. BACK TO TEXT

2 Specifically, we refer to the following factual findings and conclusion set out in the May 9, 2001 Finding and Award.

¶45. On April 19, 1999 the Claimant, by referral from his family physician Dr. Eduardo Mari, commenced treatment with Dr. Robert A. Feldman, a urologist, for erectile dysfunction.

¶51. Dr. Feldman referred the Claimant to Carole Mackenzie, a psychiatric social worker for psychotherapy, with respect to the Claimant’s sexual dysfunction.

¶T. The Claimant has failed to sustain his burden of proof that his physical injuries have produced depression which in turn has caused his sexual dysfunction.

Additionally we note both Royal Insurance and Hanover Insurance were parties to the May 9, 2001 Finding and Award. BACK TO TEXT

Workers’ Compensation Commission

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