State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
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Berry v. State of Connecticut/Department of Public Safety

CASE NO. 4866 CRB-4-04-9

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

AUGUST 19, 2005

THERESA BERRY (Dep. Widow) of ROBERT BERRY (Deceased)

CLAIMANT-APPELLEE

v.

STATE OF CONNECTICUT/DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY

EMPLOYER

SELF-INSURED

RESPONDENT-APPELLANT

APPEARANCES:

The claimant was represented by Robert J. Krzys, Esq., 500 Main Street, East Hartford, CT 06118.

The respondent State of Connecticut was represented by Lisa Guttenberg Weiss, Esq., Assistant Attorney General, 55 Elm Street, P.O. Box 120, Hartford, CT 06141.

This Petition for Review from the September 9, 2004 Ruling on Claimant’s Motion to Present Additional Evidence of the Commissioner acting for the Fourth District was heard April 15, 2005 before a Compensation Review Board Panel consisting of the Commission Chairman John A. Mastropietro and Commissioners Stephen B. Delaney and Michelle D. Truglia.

OPINION

JOHN A. MASTROPIETRO, CHAIRMAN. The respondent has appealed from the September 9, 2004 Ruling Granting the Claimant’s Motion To Present Additional Evidence. In that ruling, the Commissioner acting for the Fourth District granted the claimant an opportunity to present additional evidence on the issue of whether jurisdictional prerequisites were satisfied.

Essentially, the respondent asks this board to consider whether the trial commissioner abused his discretion in granting the claimant an opportunity to present evidence of whether the claim was timely pursuant to § 31-294c. The following facts and procedural history are helpful in our review of this matter. The claimant is the dependent spouse of the decedent. The decedent was a State Trooper who suffered a heart attack on October 3, 1994 in his home. The notice of claim was filed within one year of the decedent Robert D. Berry’s death. See April 1, 2004 Transcript p. 8.

On the basis of the parties’ briefs and the formal hearing record, it is our understanding that the compensability of the decedent’s injury was in the end phase of litigation when the question of jurisdiction arose. Hearings had been held, supplemental briefs and proposed findings were submitted on March 19, 2003. After the close of the record the trial commissioner raised a concern as to whether jurisdiction existed given Kuehl v. Z-Loda Systems Engineering, 4172 CRB-7-00-1 (July 12, 2001) aff’d, 265 Conn. 525 (2003). A hearing on the issue of the claimant’s Motion To Present Additional Evidence was held April 1, 2005. The trial commissioner issued his ruling September 9, 2004 granting the motion.

In this matter, the trial commissioner granted the claimant an opportunity to present evidence on an issue implicating the authority and the power of the Workers’ Compensation Commission. As this board recently noted in Gerte v. Logistec of CT., Inc., 4820 CRB-3-04-6 (June 24, 2005) appeal pending AC#26725 (filed July 12, 2005)

“a challenge to subject matter jurisdiction can be raised at any time” and that “[o]nce the question of lack of jurisdiction of a court is raised, [it] must be disposed of no matter in what form it is presented . . . and the court must fully resolve it before proceeding further with the case.” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Honan v. Dimyan, 85 Conn. App. 66, 69 (856 A.2d 463) (2004); see also ABC, LLC v. State Ethics Commission, 264 Conn. 812, 822-23, (826 A.2d 1077) (2003);

Urban Redev. Comm., Stamford v. Katsetos, 86 Conn. App. 236, 240-41 (2004) cert. denied, 272 Conn. 919 (2005).

Clearly, the trial commissioner’s ruling in this matter is consistent with the notion that questions of jurisdiction must be fully resolved. A finding of lack of jurisdiction would be fatal to the claim of the dependent spouse and thus the trial commissioner did not abuse his discretion when he ruled the claimant should be given an opportunity to present such evidence.

We therefore affirm the September 9, 2004 Ruling Granting the Claimant’s Motion To Present Additional Evidence by the Commissioner acting for the Fourth District.

Commissioners Stephen B. Delaney and Michelle D. Truglia concur.

Workers’ Compensation Commission

Page last revised: September 1, 2005

Page URL: http://wcc.state.ct.us/crb/2005/4866crb.htm

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