State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, Stephen M. Morelli, Chairman
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CRB Case Annotations re: Section 31-325

[Repealed effective June 29, 1995]

Acknowledgment of employees having physical conditions.

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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.

Rivera v. General Datacomm, Inc., 3853 CRB-5-98-7 (July 13, 1999).

CRB affirmed trier’s finding that claimant’s injury was materially attributable to the condition described in the acknowledgment. Medical evidence established sufficient causal connection between sarcoma surgery to knee, which included the removal of claimant’s quadricep muscle, and his subsequent tibia fracture. Prior decision at Rivera, 3332 CRB-5-96-4 (January 16, 1998), infra.

Piselli v. Miscione & Ericson, 3388 CRB-3-96-7 (June 22, 1998).

CRB affirmed the trial commissioner’s determination that the description of the claimant’s defect (“15 to 20% permanent partial disability of the lumbar spine”) was legally sufficient to meet the plain language requirements of § 31-325. However, CRB remanded the case for a determination of apportionment of the liability between the Fund and the employer on the risk for the first injury.

Fenn v. Hospital of St. Raphael, 3444 CRB-3-96-10 (February 25, 1998).

While playing softball, claimant separated his right shoulder acromioclavicular joint. Doctor described “grade III AC separat[ion] (healed)” in Acknowledgment of Physical Defect. Claimant subsequently tore his rotator cuff at work. Doctor opined that AC joint injury had nothing to do with rotator cuff tear, but contributed to overall disability of right shoulder. Held: liability does not transfer to Second Injury Fund. First, preexisting condition must materially contribute to the compensable injury or the direct results of that injury, and not merely impact on overall disability. Second, statutory condition that defect be “plainly described” was not met here; the acknowledgment failed to specify which shoulder had been injured, and did not explain what disability, if any, the claimant had incurred because of the AC separation. Affirmed.

Rivera v. General Datacom Industries, 3332 CRB-5-96-4 (January 16, 1998), appeal dismissed, A.C. 18056 (April 22, 1998).

Majority of CRB panel reversed trier’s decision to deny request for transfer of liability to Second Injury Fund. “[S]/p surgery for sarcoma L. knee” was a specific enough description of the physical defect. Trier made a legal error by assuming that the description in the acknowledgment form had to be so specific that he could determine what the claimed defect was without looking at additional medical evidence. That is not the standard, however. Defect listed in form need only inform trier as to which body part is subject to a preexisting condition. Remanded. (Metro, C., DISSENTING) Defect listed here is merely a description of surgery performed on the claimant’s knee. Trier did not err by finding it insufficient to inform him of the nature of that defect. Subsequent decision at Rivera, 3853 CRB-5-98-7 (July 13, 1999), supra.

Domijan v. New Britain, 15 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 288, 2067 CRB-6-94-6 (June 20, 1996).

Trial commissioner ruled that doctor’s letter merely stated the legal conclusion that disability was attributable in a material degree to claimant’s pre-existing condition, and denied transfer of claim to Second Injury Fund. Held, reversed. Commissioner overlooked doctor’s reports that explained link between back sprain and pre-existing disc disease; if accepted, such evidence would constitute direct evidentiary support for respondentsí position. Defect in Certificate of Acknowledgment need not directly cause subsequent injury in order for that injury to fall within Acknowledgment’s scope. Case remanded for further findings. (Vargas, C., DISSENTING) (trial commissioner was not required to accept credibility of evidence or its sufficiency).

Valechko v. Connecticut Light & Power, 15 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 55, 2062 CRB-6-94-6 (December 1, 1995), aff’d, 43 Conn. App. 902 (1996)(per curiam), cert. denied, 239 Conn. 952 (1996).

“15% loss L knee” adequately described claimant’s prior condition so that trial commissioner could determine its relation to subsequent knee injury. (Vargas, C., DISSENTING) (description in acknowledgment only indicates disability, not its cause. Actual medical diagnosis or disease should be included to give commissioner appropriate information to assess causal link between defect and compensable injury).

Wright v. UTC/Pratt & Whitney, 14 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 21, 1867 CRB-1-93-10 (April 28, 1995), rev’d, 41 Conn. App. 231 (1996).

Claimant suffered compensable left knee strain, prior to which certificate was approved noting left knee osteoarthritis. Commissioner found that pre-existing condition worsened severity of injury, and found case transferable to Second Injury Fund under § 31-349(a). Held, case was also transferable under § 31-325 and § 31-349(d), thus making first 104 weeks of disability responsibility of the Fund as well. Commissioner specifically found credible a report stating that osteoarthritis caused injury to be worse than it otherwise would have; thus, pre-existing condition contributed to both disability and injury. Sec. 31-325 applies.

Izzo v. Meriden-Wallingford Hospital, 13 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 90, 1567 CRB-8-92-11 (January 25, 1995), rev’d, 237 Conn. 259 (1996).

Claimant signed § 31-325 acknowledgment in 1983 while working for MWH, which was not approved by a commissioner until 9/91, and signed acknowledgment in 1983 while working for WWII, which was approved immediately. Claimant returned to MWH in 1984 and was injured there in 1986. WWII, MWH merged in 1/91. Held, commissioner approval not a ministerial act, so MWH acknowledgment ineffective to give right of § 31-349 transfer to employer; since merger had not occurred yet in 1986, WWII acknowledgment could not benefit MWH. Supreme Court reversed as § 31-325 does not require that the acknowledgment be approved prior to the date of the compensable injury; subsequent approval may be enough to render the form valid.

Charles v. Ansonia Copper & Brass, Inc., 12 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 228, 1447 CRB-5-92-6 (March 23, 1994).

Transfer denied where condition set out in acknowledgment failed to describe with sufficient specificity the injury for which transfer was sought. Therefore, commissioner could not determine the causal relationship between the described physical condition and a subsequent injury. See, Buikus v. Dunham Bush, Inc., 3 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 83, 149 CRD-1-82 (November 10, 1986).

Lathrop v. Kimberly Clark Corp., 8 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 156, 852 CRD-7-89-4 (September 21, 1990), aff’d, 24 Conn. App. 837 (1991).

Second Injury Fund to accept liability where trial commissioner’s factual finding satisfies requirements of § 31-325 and § 31-349. See, Hehl v. Kimberly Clark Corp., 774 CRD-7-88-10 (February 21, 1990). See also, Lathrop, § 31-301, Factual findings and § 31-349.

Hehl v. Kimberly Clark Corp., 8 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 38, 774 CRD-7-88-10 (February 21, 1990).

See, Hehl, § 31-349.

Czipulis v. Hamilton Standard, 5 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 14, 345 CRD-1-84 (March 24, 1988).

See, Shea, infra.

McGhee v. UTC/Pratt & Whitney Div., 4 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 60, 271 CRD-1-83 (May 6, 1987).

Subsequent injury need not be actually caused by acknowledged defect only that the acknowledged defect made the subsequent disability greater in a material degree. See, Shea, infra.

Shea v. Cly-Del Manufacturing Co., 4 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 37, 390 CRD-5-85 (March 19, 1987).

The acknowledged physical defect need not be the proximate cause of subsequent injury.

Buikus v. Dunham-Bush, Inc., 3 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 83, 149 CRD-1-82 (November 10, 1986).

Where defect is plainly described the commission cannot go behind the words to construe a condition which was intended to be described.

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State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, Stephen M. Morelli, Chairman
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