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Romanski v. Town of West Hartford

CASE NO. 1222 CRD-1-91-4

COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD/DIVISION

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION

JANUARY 13, 1993

ROBERT ROMANSKI

CLAIMANT-APPELLEE

v.

TOWN OF WEST HARTFORD

EMPLOYER

APPEARANCES:

The claimant was represented by Thomas Weaver, Esq., 489 Broad Street, Meriden, CT 06450.

The respondent was represented by Marjorie S. Wilder, Esq., Corporation Counsel, Town of West Hartford, 50 South Main Street, West Hartford, CT 06107.

This Petition for Review from the April 22, 1991 Finding and Award of the Commissioner for the Eighth District was heard March 27, 1992 before a Compensation Review Division panel consisting of the then Commission Chairman, John Arcudi and Commissioners Michael S. Sherman and A. Thomas White, Jr.

OPINION

JOHN ARCUDI, COMMISSIONER. This appeal by the respondent municipality from the Eighth District ruling concerns the interaction between Sec. 7-433c and Sec. 31-308(d). The trial commissioner awarded claimant benefits for a permanent partial disability of five percent (5%) to his cardiovascular system.

Respondent contends Sec. 31-308(d) benefits are not permissible where there is no loss of earnings or earning capacity. There was an approved Voluntary Agreement between the parties that claimant had suffered a compensable injury, a hypertensive condition July 1 to July 11, 1988. Various physicians had assessed claimant’s permanent partial impairment due to the condition. Dr. Stanley Roth, who examined claimant on behalf of the respondent, rated him as having a five (5%) per cent impairment of the cardiovascular system. Other physicians had concluded there was a greater impairment. See Claimant’s Exhibit H, Respondent’s Exhibit 5, reports of Dr. Edward A. Longo, M.D., Respondent’s Exhibit 1 and Respondent’s Exhibit 2.

Thus, there was evidence which reasonably supports a conclusion that claimant sustained a permanent physical impairment due to hypertension. There was also evidence that claimant’s continued employment capability was best suited to jobs with less stress than his previous position. See e.g., July 29, 1988 report of Dr. Henry C. Rogers, M.D., Claimant’s Exhibit C, November 20, 1989 report of Dr. Stanley Roth, Respondent’s Exhibit 4, March 20, 1989 report of Dr. Robert Livingston, M.D., Respondent’s Exhibit B.

Section 31-308(d) defining the criteria for awards due to permanent loss of function states:

In addition to compensation for total or partial incapacity for a specific loss of a member or loss of use of the functioning of a member of the body or for disfigurement or scarring, the commissioner may award such compensation as he deems just for the loss of or loss of function of any organ or part of the body not otherwise provided for herein, taking into account the age and sex of the claimant, the disabling effect of the loss of or loss of function of the organ involved and the necessity of the organ or complete functioning of the organ with respect to the entire body, but in no case more than the sum equivalent for seven hundred and eighty weeks.

Felia v. Westport, 214 Conn. 181 (1990) holds that once a claimant is eligible for Sec. 7-433c benefits, he becomes entitled to benefits identical to those awardable under Chapter 568, including any under Sec. 31-308(d). Heart and hypertension permanent partial benefits are awardable for Chapter 568 beneficiaries. Therefore they are awardable for Sec. 7-433c beneficiaries.

Respondents cite Ancona v. Norwalk, 217 Conn. 50 (1991) and Morgan v. East Hartford, 208 Conn. 576 (1988) as well as Felia, supra for their contention that economic loss is necessary to be proved before Sec. 31-308(d) may be awarded to Sec. 7-433c beneficiaries. We see nothing in Secs. 31-308(d) or 7-433c which requires such a reading. The expressed language of 308(d) together with its legislative history show that the legislature in 308(d) intended to duplicate for unlisted parts of the body the same benefits available for the listed parts included in 308(b).

Having concluded as we have, it is unnecessary to consider the claimant’s Motion to Dismiss. We affirm the Eighth District and dismiss respondent’s appeal.

Commissioners Michael S. Sherman and A. Thomas White, Jr. concur.

Workers’ Compensation Commission

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