State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
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Harrison v. New Country

CASE NO. 5329 CRB-7-08-3

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

DECEMBER 1, 2009

ANGELA HARRISON

CLAIMANT-APPELLANT

v.

NEW COUNTRY MOTOR CARS OF GREENWICH, INC., A/K/A

NEW COUNTRY PORSCHE OF GREENWICH, A/K/A

NEW COUNTRY MOTOR CAR GROUP, A/K/A

NEW COUNTRY AUDI OF GREENWICH

EMPLOYER

and

GALLAGHER BASSETT SERVICES

INSURER

RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES

APPEARANCES:

The claimant did not file a brief nor appear at oral argument.

The respondents were represented by Nicholas Francis, Esq., Law Offices of Jonathan M. Zajac, P.O. Box 699, Avon, CT 06001.

This Petition for Review from the March 6, 2008 Finding and Dismissal of the Commissioner acting for the Seventh District was heard September 25, 2009 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman John A. Mastropietro and Commissioners Randy L. Cohen and Ernie R. Walker.

OPINION

JOHN A. MASTROPIETRO, CHAIRMAN. The claimant appeals from the March 6, 2008 Finding and Dismissal of the Commissioner acting for the Seventh District.1 In that Finding and Dismissal the trial commissioner dismissed the claimant’s claim for benefits.

In the claim before the trial commissioner the claimant alleged that on March 13, 2006 while in the employ of the respondent and on the employer’s premises she fell and injured herself. The record below reflects that there were four (4) formal hearing sessions and that in the proceedings below the claimant was represented by legal counsel, Attorney Richard Cerrato. Following the trial commissioner’s dismissal of the claimant’s claim, the claimant filed this appeal and within days of this board’s receipt of the claimant’s Petition for Review, Attorney Cerrato filed a Motion to Withdraw Appearance in his representation of the claimant in the appeal filed with the Compensation Review Board. The Motion to Withdraw Appearance was granted in our April 16, 2008 Order.The claimant thus pursued this appeal on a pro se basis and although the claimant filed a Petition for Review and Reasons of Appeal, no Motion to Correct nor appellate brief was filed by the claimant-appellant.

The instant matter was originally scheduled to be heard by the Compensation Review Board at its September 26, 2008 session. On September 25, 2008, the day prior to oral argument, the claimant forwarded a request that consideration of her appeal be postponed. The claimant’s request was granted. The appeal was then scheduled to be heard by the board at its February 27, 2009 session. On February 26, 2009 this board received yet another request from the claimant that her appeal be postponed from the February 27, 2009 docket of the Compensation Review Board. This board again granted the claimant’s request to postpone oral argument of her appeal.

The appeal was then scheduled to be heard at oral argument on September 25, 2009. This body received no further communication from the claimant nor did the claimant appear at oral argument held September 25, 2009.

We appreciate that the claimant has pursued this appeal on a pro se basis. We generally accord those who appear pro se in this forum some leniency in their attempt to conform to the procedural aspects of advancing their claims. However, in the instant matter the claimant’s failure to provide either written argument in the form of a brief or to appear at oral argument and offer support for her contention that the March 6, 2008 Finding and Dismissal should be overturned, leaves us with no other recourse than to dismiss the appeal. As our Appellate Court quoted in Sellers v. Sellers Garage, Inc., 110 Conn. App. 110, 117-18 (2008):

“Although we are solicitous of the fact that the [plaintiff] is a pro se litigant, the statutes and rules of practice cannot be ignored completely. . . . We are not required to review issues that have been improperly presented to this court through an inadequate brief.” (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Cooke v. Cooke, 99 Conn. App. 347, 352-53, (2007). (Footnote omitted.)

Further our review of the trial commissioner’s conclusion reflects that her findings were predicated on the weight and credibility she accorded to the evidence presented. Determinations that are based on credibility will not be disturbed unless contrary to law, without evidence or based on impermissible or unreasonable factual inferences. Fair v. People’s Savings Bank, 207 Conn. 535 (1988). The claimant-appellant’s failure to either appear at oral argument or file a brief in this matter puts this panel in the position of merely speculating as to any legal argument in support of overturning the trial commissioner’s conclusion.

As an appellate panel we cannot simultaneously assume the role of claimant’s advocate. The claimant was represented in the proceedings below by experienced counsel. Nothing filed by the claimant references where in the record we might find support for her contentions that the trier erred or abused her discretion in concluding as she did. Gonzalez v. Meriden-Wallingford Hospital, 10 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 127, 1178 CRD-8-91-2 (May 21, 1992) (not the obligation of the Compensation Review Board to cull out parts of the record supporting appellant’s claims). See also, Thornton v. Kabel, 15 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 353, 3027 CRB-4-95-3 (June 26, 1996); Capasso v. Fusco Corporation, 13 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 30, 1622 CRB-3-93-1, 1920 CRB-3-93-11 (November 8, 1994); Horkheimer v. Stratford, 4 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 139, 163 CRD-4-82 (December 31, 1987) citing Sorrentino v. Cersosimo, 103 Conn. 426, 429 (1925).

We therefore dismiss the claimant’s appeal from the March 6, 2008 Finding and Dismissal of the Commissioner acting for the Seventh District.

Commissioners Randy L. Cohen and Ernie R. Walker concur.

1 We note that oral argument was postponed at the request of the claimant appellant on two occasions. See above. BACK TO TEXT

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