State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, Stephen M. Morelli, Chairman
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CRB Case Annotations re: Section 5-145a

Hypertension or heart disease in certain university, aeronautics, capitol security, correction, mental health, criminal justice or hazardous duty personnel.

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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.

McGrath v. State/Western Connecticut State University, 6231 CRB-7-17-11 (November 28, 2018).

Claimant sought benefits under hazardous duty statute but the trial commissioner determined that his evidence was insufficient to establish he was among those jurisdictionally qualified to obtain such an award. Claimant filed a motion to correct and a motion to submit additional evidence and respondent said they stipulated that claimant was within scope of the statute. Trial Commissioner denied said as “effort to confer jurisdiction by agreement”. After appeal filed respondent located copy of Arbitration Award determining WestConn police officers within the statute. CRB vacated dismissal and remanded for further proceedings. Commissioner should rule on jurisdictional issue with new evidence.

Jamieson v. State/Military Department, 5888 CRB-1-13-9 (August 15, 2014).

CRB affirmed award of 13 weeks of full salary benefits to firefighter disabled from this job, although he had light duty work capacity. See also, Jamieson, § 31-300; § 31-301 Factual findings; § 31-307; § 31-308(a).

Lembrick v. State/Dept. of Correction, 5543 CRB-1-10-04 (February 10, 2011).

Claimant hired as corrections officer in 1990’s and diagnosed with hypertension in 2008. He filed claim seeking statutory presumption that hypertension was work related. Neither claimant nor respondent could locate pre-employment physical examination. Respondent argued claimant failed to prove he did not have heart condition prior to state employment and thus, did not qualify for statutory presumption. Trial commissioner awarded claimant benefits. CRB affirmed trial commissioner, Collingwood v. Town of Branford, 4787 CRB-3-04-2 (July 6, 2005) on point and states respondents cannot rely on “lost examination” defense to heart & hypertension cases. Claimant’s testimony and medical records offered sufficient basis to conclude he was examined and did not have hypertension at time of hiring. Discussion of import of statutory presumption in wake of Salmeri v. State/Department of Public Safety, 70 Conn. App. 321 (2002).

Rizzo v. State/Judicial Department, 5522 CRB-6-10-1 (January 10, 2011).

Respondent appealed trier’s conclusions that claimant’s § 5-145a claim was timely filed and respondent failed to rebut presumption that claimant’s heart disease was causally connected to his employment as a Judicial Marshal. CRB affirmed, relying in part on Ciarlelli v. Hamden, 299 Conn. 265 (2010) in which Supreme Court held that one-year statute of limitations in hypertension cases commences when medical professional informs claimant of hypertension diagnosis. CRB determined that medical record did not support respondent’s contention that claimant’s heart disease pre dated his employment as Judicial Marshal or that claimant received a definitive diagnosis of heart disease prior to his emergency medical procedures in December 2005. CRB determined trier’s findings relative to subject matter jurisdiction were legally sufficient and affirmed trier’s denial of Motion to Correct, concluding that although trier inaccurately used term “heart attack” and quoted an incorrect date of hire in his findings, both errors were harmless. See also, Rizzo, § 7-433c, § 31-294c(a), § 31-301. Factual Findings, § 31-301-3, § 31-301-4.

Jamieson v. State/Military Dept., 5471 CRB-1-09-6 (June 16, 2010), aff’d, 132 Conn. App. 225 (2011).

Claimant employed as fireman for state military department and also was employed by Air National Guard. Claimant developed atrial fibrillation September 5, 2006 and had subsequent cardiac event September 10, 2006 while at Guard drill. Respondent argued claimant federal employee. Trial commissioner found claimant spent vast majority of time working for state. Respondent appealed. CRB upheld; state stipulated claimant among workers covered by § 5-145a. C.G.S. Appellate Court affirmed decision on appeal. See also, Jamieson, § 5-142a, § 31-278, § 31-294c, § 31-301. Factual finding.

Bergin v. State/Department of Correction, 4200 CRB-8-00-3 (August 23, 2001), aff’d, 75 Conn. App. 591 (2003), cert. denied, 264 Conn. 903 (2003).

Claimant (dependent widow) filed a Motion to Reopen in which she claimed that the trier decided only her § 5-145a claim but failed to decide her Chapter 568 claim. Board explained standard for a hypertension/heart attack claim under Chapter 568 as opposed to a § 5-145a claim, and held that trier properly dismissed both claims. Here, heart attack occurred after the decedent retired, and although there was evidence that the hypertension caused the heart attack, there was no medical evidence that the hypertension was caused by the employment. See also, Bergin, § 31-301. Appeal procedure, and § 31-315.

Horn v. State/Dept. of Correction, 4177 CRB-3-00-1 (February 22, 2001).

CRB confirmed that statutory presumption of compensability is rebuttable, though doctrine of law of case would have permitted panel to simply rely on earlier Horn CRB opinion. Instead, panel clarified that evidence must be deemed credible in order to rebut statutory presumption, and explained its reasoning regarding constitutional invalidity of irrebuttable presumptions. See also, Horn, § 31-301. Factual findings. Prior decision at Horn, 3727 CRB-3-97-11 (December 16, 1998), infra, and § 31-294c.

Salmeri v. State/Dept. of Public Safety, 4066 CRB-5-99-6 (August 9, 2000), aff’d, 70 Conn. App. 321 (2002).

CRB affirmed trier’s decision that claimant’s workplace attack of atrial fibrillation established heart disease within § 5-145a, though no organic damage to heart was visible. Abnormality of heart rhythm can also be a disease. Trier was entitled to rely on doctor’s testimony that the compensable arrhythmic attack made the claimant more susceptible to further attacks in the future, thus permanently aggravating the pre-existing condition and entitling the claimant to 10% permanent partial impairment award.

Capra v. State/Dept. of Correction, 3791 CRB-4-98-4 (April 27, 1999).

Trier found that claimant was diagnosed with mild hypertension, but removed self from employment without medical reports establishing that ailment as the basis of his decision to leave work. Allegation of total disability dismissed, as claimant did not meet burden of proof that workplace incidents caused increased stress, and trier rejected medical opinions connecting hypertension with claimant’s post-traumatic stress disorder. CRB affirmed. Doctor’s testimony offered by respondent constituted competent evidence, and statutory presumption of compensability was overridden. Presumption must be rebuttable in order to remain constitutional. See also, Capra, § 31-298, § 31-301. Appeal procedure.

Horn v. State/Dept. of Correction, 3727 CRB-3-97-11 (December 16, 1998).

Statute grants rebuttable presumption of compensability. Trier cited in findings doctor’s report that attributed causation to factors outside workplace, but did not mention it in his conclusions. Meanwhile, trier also found claimant’s description of workplace stress not credible. CRB remanded case for further findings, as rebuttable presumption was not sufficiently addressed. See also, Horn, § 31-294c. Subsequent decision at Horn, 4177 CRB-3-00-1 (February 22, 2001), supra, § 31-301. Factual findings.

Grant v. State/Dept. of Correction, 11 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 93, 1265 CRD-5-91-8 (May 14, 1993).

Claim for benefits due to hypertension and a cerebrovascular accident (stroke) denied where evidence clearly rebutted presumption provided in § 5-142a. Claimant sought to introduce into evidence results of a preemployment physical exam as the results of this exam were not available for introduction in the proceedings below. CRB held even if claimant had the opportunity to present said evidence the issue is moot as evidence and findings clearly indicate respondents overcame statute’s rebuttable presumption. See, DiBenedetto v. State, 9 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 1, 862 CRD-6-89-5 (January 3, 1991), infra.

DiBenedetto v. State/University of Connecticut Health Center, 9 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 1, 862 CRD-6-89-5 (January 3, 1991).

Compensability is established on a prima facie case basis if the employer offers no evidence to contest. Employee receives full pay for first three months, after that all provisions of Chapter 568 apply.

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