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CASE NO. 1283 CRD-1-91-8
COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD/DIVISION
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION
APRIL 21, 1993
CUSHMAN INDUSTRIES COMPANY
The claimant was represented by Henry Hurvitz, Esq., 429 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106 at the trial level and on appeal appeared pro se, 271 Franklin Avenue, Apt. 2N, Hartford, CT 06114.
The respondent was represented by John Russo, Vice President of Manufacturing, and Fred Brenneman at the trial level and on appeal by Douglas Farber, Esq. Albrecht & Zelman, P.O. Box 511, Bloomfield, CT 06002-0511.
This Petition for Review from the August 12, 1991 Finding and Award of the Commissioner acting for the First District was heard November 20, 1992 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman Jesse Frankl and Commissioners John Arcudi and Frank Verrilli.
JOHN ARCUDI, COMMISSIONER. Central to this appeal are jurisdictional issues applicable to Sec. 31-290a, C.G.S. That statute prohibits discharge from or discrimination in employment against an employee for exercise of rights under the workers’ compensation law. The commissioner below found that claimant had been discriminatorally discharged and awarded benefits allowable in that statute. The respondent employer appealed to this appellate tribunal. However, Sec. 31-290a provides for an appeal from the commissioner to the appellate court.
Claimant sustained a compensable right hand injury in the employ of this employer January 3, 1990. He attempted to return to work on an alleged “one armed job” for this same employer January 8, 1990. The job involved some ladder climbing and some lifting of light parts. Claimant attempted to do the work for about an hour and one half on January 8 despite his right arm’s being in a sling and his being under medication for pain. The climbing made him dizzy, and that combined with the pain he was suffering caused him to stop. When he reported this to a supervisory employee, that supervisor asked him “if he wanted to quit” and told him “you know I want to fire you.” Claimant was then discharged from employment January 10. On the basis of the written reasons the employer gave for the discharge and the occurrences as here related the commissioner ruled that Sec. 31-290a had indeed been violated by the employer and awarded claimant benefits accordingly.
On July 25 of the same year, six months after the discharge, the claimant and the employer, through Hartford Insurance Group, its insurance carrier, entered into a Stipulation, approved that same day by a commissioner in the First District. In that document the claimant agreed to release all claims against the employer arising out of the January 3, 1990 compensable injury and the employer agreed to pay fifteen thousand ($15,000.00) dollars in exchange. The salient paragraphs of the Stipulation are as follows:
WHEREFORE, it is agreed by and between the parties hereto that the respondents shall pay to the claimant the sum of FIFTEEN THOUSAND ($15,000.00) DOLLARS, the same is to be in full, final and complete settlement, adjustment accord, and satisfaction of all claims which the aforesaid claimant might otherwise have against the respondents, or either of them, and to be made and accepted in lieu of all other compensation payments, in accordance with the language of our Act.
. . .
The payment of said $15,000.00 shall be made and accepted as a full and final settlement of all compensation for said injury, and for all results upon the claimant past, present and future, and for all claims for past, present and future medical, surgical, hospital and incidental expenses and all compensation which may be due to anyone in case of the death of the claimant, to the end that the payment of such sum shall consitute a complete satisfaction of all claims due or to become due at any time in favor of anybody on account of the claimed injury, or on account of any condition in any way resulting out of the said injury, or on account of the death of the claimant.
It is expressly understood and agreed that the payment of said $15,000.00 is in full accord and satisfaction (sic) of a disputed claim and is not an admission of any liability by the respondents, or either of them.
As appears above, the commissioner rendered his decision awarding benefits to the claimant under Sec. 31-290a August 12, 1991 and respondent filed a petition for review August 22, 1991. On August 30 claimant filed a Motion to Dismiss Appeal for Lack of Jurisdiction. In that motion claimant cited Ford v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Connecticut, Inc., 216 Conn. 40 (1990) and Chiaia v. Pepperidge Farm, Inc., 24 Conn. App. 362 (1991) for the proposition that Sec. 31-290a decisions by a commissioner are appealable only to the Appellate Court and not to the Compensation Review Division/Board. Therefore the Compensation Review Division/Board was without jurisdiction to hear the appeal.
This matter is on all fours with this tribunal’s decision in Rondini v. Tectonic Industries, 1231 CRD-6-91-5 (decided December 4, 1992). There we ruled that the Compensation Review Division/Board was in fact without jurisdiction to hear Sec. 31-290a appeals because of the specific appeal provision in the last sentence of that statute. However, we also considered in that decision the effect of the parties’ stipulation settling all claims. We ruled that such a stipulation deprived the trial commissioner of jurisdiction to hear a Sec. 31-290a claim.
And that is exactly the situation here presented. The parties’ Stipulation of July 25, 1990 settled all claims arising under the workers’ compensation law some six months after the alleged discriminatory discharge took place. The parties were certainly aware when the Stipulation was entered into in July what events had transpired in January, and the claimant was nonetheless willing to relinquish all claims for the payment of $15,000.00 by the respondents. Therefore the Finding and Award of August 12, 1991 in favor of the claimant must be set aside as entered without jurisdiction.
For the reasons stated above respondents appeal is sustained, and the commissioner’s decision is reversed.
Chairman Jesse Frankl and Commissioner Frank Verrilli concur.
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