CASE NO. 5133 CRB-8-06-9
COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION
DECEMBER 20, 2007
JAMES V. URSINI CO.
ROYAL & SUNALLIANCE INSURANCE
The claimant was represented by Stephen F. Donohue, Esq., Laske & Brown, 1129 Post Road, Fairfield, CT 06824.
The respondents were represented by Brian E. Prindle, Esq., 72 Bissell Street, Manchester, CT 06040.
This Petition for Review from the August 23, 2006 Response to CRB Remand of the Commissioner acting for the Fourth District was heard July 13, 2007 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman John A. Mastropietro and Commissioners Amado J. Vargas and Scott A. Barton.
JOHN A. MASTROPIETRO, CHAIRMAN. The appellants in this matter are the respondents. They have appealed from the August 23, 2006 Response To CRB [Compensation Review Board] Remand of the Commissioner Acting for the Fourth District.1 As this is an appeal from this tribunal’s remand a review of the appellate history in this matter is necessary.
This matter was previously considered by this tribunal and the subject of our opinion in Brennan v. Ursini, 4774 CRB-8-04-1 (January 21, 2005) [hereafter Brennan I]. Our review in Brennan I was from an appeal taken from the January 15, 2004, Finding and Award of the Commissioner acting for the Fourth District. We were asked to determine if the trial commissioner’s interpretation of the parties’ Stipulation To Date and the respondents’ payments pursuant to that agreement constituted an accord and satisfaction. The pertinent facts in this matter were set out in Brennan I and were as follows:
The claimant sustained a compensable right wrist injury March 5, 1993. A number of hearings were held concerning the claimant’s injury. Among the disputed issues were; the date of maximum medical improvement, permanent partial impairment, temporary partial benefits, temporary total disability benefits, credit for payments made and medical bills. See Finding ¶ 10. A Stipulation To Date was approved on March 26, 2002 by Commissioner Frank Verrilli.
The claimant’s compensation rate was established as $513. Language in the Stipulation specifically stated the respondents should be credited for 8.43 weeks of specific benefits that they had advanced and that maximum medical improvement was reached on April 7, 2000. The Stipulation provided for the payment of 57.09 weeks of specific benefits and 65.52 weeks of § 31-308a benefits at the rate of $513 per week for a total payment of $62,898.93.
Following the approval of the Stipulation the respondents forwarded checks to the claimant in the amounts of $7,741.47 for specific benefits and $31,339.89 for § 31-308a benefits. The respondents claim they paid the claimant $31,852.17 after the maximum medical improvement date of April 7, 2000 but prior to the approval of the Stipulation to Date. In all the respondents contend that they paid the claimant $63,192.06 after the date of maximum medical improvement.
The trial commissioner found the respondents still owed the claimant $23,817.87 under the terms of the approved Stipulation To Date. The trial commissioner then ordered the respondents to pay interest at the rate of 20% on the $23,817.87 pursuant to § 31-303 C.G.S. In our opinion in Brennan I, we remanded the matter back to the Commissioner and ordered the trial commissioner to determine what the $31, 852.17 paid to the claimant after the date established as maximum medical improvement represented. In the August 23, 2006 Response the trial commissioner referenced his earlier January 15, 2004 Finding and Award and the findings contained therein. Again the trial commissioner concluded the claimant was owed $23, 817.87 as the Stipulation To Date was a compromise of issues that were in dispute. In paragraph 16 the trial commissioner found, “The $23,817.87 owed by the respondent represents the compromising of numerous disputed matters . . . .”
As this appeal is a further consideration of the proceedings which led to the trial commissioner’s January 15, 2004 Finding and Award, our review of this matter includes the record of those proceedings. In those proceedings the trial commissioner took administrative notice of the Stipulation To Date approved by Commissioner Verrilli on March 26, 2002. The terms of the Stipulation provided, inter alia:
Now, therefore, I, the claimant, Bernard Brennan have agreed to accept, and We, the Respondents, have agreed to accept the following: 1) April 7, 2000 as the date of maximum medical improvement, 2) 26% impairment of the right hand (65.52 weeks), 3) Credit for 8.43 weeks of permanent partial disability advanced subsequent to March 30, 1995, the date Commissioner Johnson approved a Form 36, and prior to April 7, 2000 (65.52 – 8.43 = 57.09), 5) Provided that wage reduction continues post payment of permanent partial disability, an agreement to pay 65.52 weeks of Section 31-308a benefits, and 6) The claimant shall have the right to request of the Workers’ Compensation Commission an extension of Section 31-308a benefits above and beyond the 65.52 weeks as recited herein. . . .
We think the trial commissioner’s Finding in ¶ 16 of the August 23, 2006 Response satisfies our request for an articulation. The trial commissioner has determined the sums paid by the respondents following the April 7, 2000 date of maximum medical improvement were for the compromise of the various claims. The Stipulation To Date was approved March 26, 2002, thus, the respondents should have been aware that there were nearly two years of payments rendered to the claimant. The respondents could easily have claimed a credit for those payments as part of the Stipulation To Date if that was their position at the time. They chose not to do so. The trial commissioner’s articulation clarifies that the sums paid were not tied to any particular category of benefits but merely sums paid so as to effect a compromise of the claims.
We therefore affirm the August 23, 2006 Response of the Commissioner acting for the Fourth District.
Commissioners Amado J. Vargas and Scott A. Barton concur.
1 We note that a postponement of oral argument was granted during the course of the appellate process. BACK TO TEXT