CASE NO. 4938 CRB-3-05-5
COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION
OCTOBER 3, 2005
TEXTRON LYCOMING DIVISION
CAMBRIDGE INTEGRATED SERVICES GROUP, INC.
The claimant was represented by Francis P. Cipriano, Esq., 1220 Whitney Avenue, P.O. Box 6503, Hamden, CT 06517.
The respondents were represented by Jason M. Dodge, Esq., Pomeranz, Drayton & Stabnick, 95 Glastonbury Boulevard, Glastonbury, CT 06033.
This Petition for Review from the May 11, 2005 Ruling on Motion for Recusal of the Commissioner acting for the Third District was heard September 23, 2005 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman John A. Mastropietro and Commissioners Stephen B. Delaney and Michelle D. Truglia.
JOHN A. MASTROPIETRO, CHAIRMAN. On August 6, 2004 this tribunal issued its opinion in Strona v. Textron Lycoming, 4700 CRB-3-03-7 (August 6, 2004)[for purposes of this discussion we will refer to this opinion as Strona I. In our conclusion in Strona I we remanded the matter for a trial de novo. In the course of scheduling the new hearings the matter was put on the docket of the trial commissioner whose decision we reviewed in our consideration of Strona I. Upon learning of the scheduled proceedings before the same trial commissioner who rendered the underlying Finding and Award in Strona I, and for which we ordered a trial de novo, the respondents forwarded a letter requesting the trial commissioner recuse himself. The trial commissioner denied the request for recusal.
The sole issue respondents raise on appeal is whether the trial commissioner erred in failing to grant respondents request for his recusal. However, we need not consider the issue as presented by the respondents. The simple issue is whether it was error to schedule a formal hearing before the same commissioner who heard and determined a matter previously and where a trial de novo was ordered. We believe it was an administrative error.
The term “trial de novo” is defined as “[a] new trial on the entire case—that is, on both questions of fact and issues of law—conducted as if there had been no trial in the first instance.” Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Eighth Edition, p. 1544. Here, the trial commissioner previously presided over formal hearings, heard all the evidence and came to a conclusion as to claimant’s entitlement. We think the reassignment of the same case and issues to the same trial commissioner with the direction that the matter be heard “as if there had been no trial in the first instance” asks the trier to undergo a sort of judicial amnesia. We believe such an expectation is impracticable, and ultimately unfair to the parties and the commissioner. See also, Schiappa v. Ferrero, 61 Conn. App. 876 (2001).
Thus, in order to clarify any confusion as to what was meant by our remand for a trial de novo in Strona I, we did not intend for the “new” trial to be put on the docket of the commissioner who previously heard and decided the matter. If our direction for a new trial was stated with less clarity than was ultimately necessary, we anticipate this opinion will resolve any ambiguity.
Commissioners Stephen B. Delaney and Michelle D. Truglia concur.