State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
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CRB Case Annotations re: Section 7-314a

Volunteer firemen.

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THESE ANNOTATIONS ARE PROVIDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY

Full texts of opinions, statutes and court decisions should be consulted and all citations and references fully researched by the reader.

The Annotations to Compensation Review Board Opinions are presented “as is” and the Commission makes no warranties as to the suitability of this information for any given purpose.
Please note also that Annotations change periodically due to several factors including, but not limited to, Appellate and Supreme Court decisions issued in workers’ compensation cases.

Rowland v. Woodbridge, 5844 CRB-3-13-5 (June 6, 2014).

Respondents appealed trier’s conclusion that claimant, a volunteer fire chief, sustained injury while serving as active member of fire department engaged in performance of fire duties and wage rate should be calculated in accordance with provisions of §§ 7-314a and 7-314b C.G.S., subject to § 7-314b(c) C.G.S. Respondents argued that because claimant’s election as fire chief was ratified by municipal fire commission, claimant was a municipal employee pursuant to § 31-275(9)(A)(vi) C.G.S. and wage rate should be based on annual fire chief stipend and calculated according to § 31-310 C.G.S. CRB affirmed, noting that because fire chief election process was open only to fire department members in good standing and ratification was limited to five-member Fire Commission appointed by Board of Selectmen, trier reasonably inferred that position of fire chief was not an “elected or appointed position” as contemplated by § 31-275(9)(A)(vi) C.G.S. CRB also found that trier appropriately applied totality of evidence test as set forth in Hanson v. Transportation General, Inc., 245 Conn. 613 (1998) relative to respondent municipality’s right to control claimant and held that reversal of decision would be at variance with public policy. See also, Rowland, § 31-275(9); § 31-301 Factual findings; § 31-310.

Chowaniec v. Middlefield, 5779 CRB-8-12-9 (September 9, 2013).

Respondents appealed trier’s award of benefits to volunteer firefighter injured while setting up fundraising booth at Durham Fair, asserting that trier erred in applying provisions of § 7-314(a) C.G.S. CRB affirmed trier’s decision to apply § 7-314(a) C.G.S. but reversed award, holding that because record could not support reasonable inference that claimant’s fundraising activities resulted from an order from a supervising officer, circumstances of injury did not satisfy provisions of statute. CRB recognized that claimant’s activities were for the benefit of the fire company but noted that instant record differed significantly from factual circumstances which gave rise to award of benefits in Evanuska v. Danbury, 285 Conn. 348 (2008). See also, Chowaniec, § 31-275(1), § 31-301 Factual findings.

Gilbert v. Ansonia, 5342 CRB-4-08-5 (May 14, 2009).

CRB affirmed trial commissioner’s decision to deny Respondents’ Medical Examination. Respondents alleged claimant, a volunteer fireman who was rendered a paraplegic when he fell from a ladder while fighting a fire, no longer satisfied the statutory conditions for collecting total incapacity benefits pursuant to § 31-307(c) C.G.S. Respondents contended that because medical reports indicated claimant’s paralysis was not complete and video surveillance showed claimant was able to walk and ambulate, trial commissioner’s refusal to authorize respondents’ medical examination constituted denial of due process. Trial commissioner found respondents had failed to challenge a prior trial commissioner’s finding in 2004 establishing claimant’s eligibility for permanent total incapacity benefits and also determined respondents had not adduced sufficient evidence of a change in claimant’s disability to warrant opening the voluntary agreement pursuant to § 31-315 C.G.S. See also, Gilbert, § 31 294f, § 31 301. Factual findings, § 31-307, § 31-315.

Peabody v. Shelton, 16 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 25, 3024 CRB-4-95-3 (October 8, 1996), aff’d, 45 Conn. App. 913 (1997)(per curiam), cert. denied, 242 Conn. 906 (1997).

Claimant was a member of a volunteer fire company. Claimant’s status as a member had been changed to “life active member.” Claimant was assigned the task of updating certain computer records. While waiting for a computer room to complete his assigned task, the claimant suffered a heart attack. The trial commissioner found claimant’s heart attack did not occur while claimant was an active member of the fire company as not only had the claimant’s status been changed, but there was evidence that claimant was unable to physically perform the duties expected of an active member. CRB affirmed trier’s denial of benefits pursuant to § 7-314 and § 7-314a.

Evanuska v. Danbury, 4900 CRB-7-04-12 (December 12, 2005), aff’d, 99 Conn. App. 42 (2007), cert. granted, 281 Conn. 923 (2007), rev’d, 285 Conn. 348 (2008).

Volunteer firefighters were injured in fall from scaffolding while working on repairs to firehouse roof. CRB affirmed trial commissioner’s decision that the injuries were not compensable under chapter 568, as participation in “work detail” did not constitute performance of fire duties within meaning of § 7-314(a). Supreme Court reversed, ruling that trial commissioner applied incorrect interpretation of § 7-314(a)’s remedial language to the facts by overly limiting scope of statute to firefighting or training situations, as catch-all provision includes any other duty ordered to be performed by a superior or commanding officer.” Reasoning that trier made finding that no one was ordered to be at work party while using incorrect legal lens, Court remanded case to determine whether claimant had obligation to perform firehouse repairs as part of scope of his duties, and whether he was ordered to perform the repairs by a superior or commanding officer acting within his or her authority. Also, broader definition of “ordered” applies in this situation.

Williams v. Danbury, 4903 CRB-7-04-12 (December 12, 2005), aff’d, 99 Conn. App. 42 (2007), cert. granted, 281 Conn. 923 (2007), rev’d, 285 Conn. 348 (2008).

Volunteer firefighters were injured in fall from scaffolding while working on repairs to firehouse roof. CRB affirmed trial commissioner’s decision that the injuries were not compensable under chapter 568, as participation in “work detail” did not constitute performance of fire duties within meaning of § 7-314(a). Supreme Court reversed, ruling that trial commissioner applied incorrect interpretation of § 7-314(a)’s remedial language to the facts by overly limiting scope of statute to firefighting or training situations, as catch-all provision includes any other duty ordered to be performed by a superior or commanding officer.” Reasoning that trier made finding that no one was ordered to be at work party while using incorrect legal lens, Court remanded case to determine whether claimant had obligation to perform firehouse repairs as part of scope of his duties, and whether he was ordered to perform the repairs by a superior or commanding officer acting within his or her authority. Also, broader definition of “ordered” applies in this situation.

Rothholz v. Chesterfield Fire Company, Inc., 4827 CRB-2-04-7 (August 12, 2005).

CRB affirmed trier’s decision that claimant was an active member of a volunteer fire department engaged in fire duties when he sustained an injury. At the time of injury the claimant was fulfilling his duties as President of the fire company.

Hardt v. Watertown, 4743 CRB-5-03-10 (November 30, 2004), aff’d, 95 Conn. App. 52 (2006), cert. granted, 278 Conn. 923 (2006), aff’d, 281 Conn. 600 (2007).

CRB reversed trial commissioner’s determination claimant was in training under § 7-314a while injured during a town sponsored basketball game. Panel found claimant was not in training for or engaged in volunteer fire duties.

Wannagot v. Shelton, 12 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 256, 1512 CRB-4-92-9 (June 2, 1994), aff’d, 38 Conn. App. 754 (1995), cert. denied, 235 Conn. 919, 920 (1995).

Trier properly determined that claimant widow had been overpaid compensation benefits where benefits were paid at the maximum weekly compensation rate. Section 7-314a sets the average weekly earnings of the decedent as the average weekly earnings of production workers. Claimant widow was entitled to sixty-six and two-thirds percent of the average production wage in effect on the date of her husband’s heart attack which caused his death.

Wislocki v. Prospect, 9 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 222, 1010 CRD-5-90-5 (October 21, 1991), aff’d, 27 Conn. App. 919 (1992)(per curiam), aff’d, 224 Conn. 479 (1993).

Volunteer fireman who sustains a compensable injury while performing fire duties and was also regularly employed full time by a local manufacturer is not entitled to § 31-310 concurrent employment benefits. See also, Wislocki, § 31-310.

Thomas v. Lisbon, 4 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 136, 364 CRD-2-84, 365 CRD-2-84 (December 24, 1987), error, judgment directed, 209 Conn. 268 (1988).

See, Thomas, § 7-322a.

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