September 13, 2016
M. Dodge, for the appellants (defendants).
F. Aspell, for the appellee (plaintiff).
Rogers, C. J., and Palmer, Zarella, Eveleigh, McDonald,
Espinosa and Robinson, Js.
named defendant, the New Haven Police Department,
appeals from the decision of the Workers'
Compensation Review Board (board), which affirmed the
decision of the Workers' Compensation Commissioner for
the Third District (commissioner), awarding heart disease
benefits to the plaintiff, Reginald Holston, pursuant to
General Statutes § 7-433c (a).On appeal, the defendant
asserts that the board improperly determined that the
plaintiff's heart disease claim was timely. Specifically,
the defendant claims that the board improperly affirmed the
decision of the commissioner that the plaintiff's
hypertension and heart disease were separate diseases, each
with its own one year limitation period for filing a claim
for benefits. We disagree with the defendant and,
accordingly, affirm the decision of the board.
record reveals the following undisputed facts and procedural
history. The plaintiff was hired by the defendant as a police
officer in 1996 and remained a regular member of that paid
municipal police department at all points relevant to the
present case. When he was hired, the plaintiff passed a
preemployment physical examination that did not reveal any
evidence of hypertension or heart disease.
March 10, 2011, the plaintiff suffered a myocardial
infarction. The plaintiff underwent an angioplasty and stent
implantation following a diagnosis of heart disease. He
remained hospitalized for approximately four days after the
procedure and was out of work for three or four months. The
plaintiff was prescribed several medications for his heart
disease. On March 14, 2011, the plaintiff filed a claim for
benefits under § 7-433c for hypertension and heart
disease. The plaintiff listed the date of injury as March 10,
hearing before the commissioner, Roy Kellerman, the
plaintiff's physician, testified that he began treating
the plaintiff in 1995 for an ankle injury. The commissioner
found that Kellerman had diagnosed the plaintiff with
hypertension in October, 2009, and had conveyed that
diagnosis to him. The commissioner concluded, therefore, that
the plaintiff's claim for benefits related to
hypertension was untimely because it was filed more than one
year after he became aware of his diagnosis of hypertension.
basis of the testimony of Kellerman and Martin Krauthamer, a
physician obtained by the defendant, the commissioner
determined that the plaintiff's preexisting hypertension
was a significant contributing factor in the development of
his heart disease. The commissioner further found, however,
that there were additional significant contributing factors
in the development of the plaintiff's heart disease,
including his high cholesterol and his gender.
the commissioner dismissed the plaintiff's claim for
benefits related to his hypertension as untimely, but granted
his claim for benefits related to his heart disease and
myocardial infarction. The defendant appealed to the board,
and the board affirmed the decision of the
commissioner. This appeal followed.
a threshold matter, we set forth the standard of review
applicable to workers' compensation appeals. The
principles that govern our standard of review in workers'
compensation appeals are well established. The conclusions
drawn by [the commissioner] from the facts found must stand
unless they result from an incorrect application of the law
to the subordinate facts or from an inference illegally or
unreasonably drawn from them. . . . [Moreover, it] is well
established that [a]lthough not dispositive, we accord great
weight to the construction given to the workers'
compensation statutes by the commissioner and [the] board. .
. . Cases that present pure questions of law, however, invoke
a broader standard of review than is ordinarily involved in
deciding whether, in light of the evidence, the agency has
acted unreasonably, arbitrarily, illegally or in abuse of its
discretion. . . . We have determined, therefore, that the
traditional deference accorded to an agency's
interpretation of a statutory term is unwarranted when the
construction of a statute . . . has not previously been
subjected to judicial scrutiny [or to] . . . a governmental
agency's time-tested interpretation . . . .''
(Footnote added; internal quotation marks omitted.)
Estate of Rock v. University of Connecticut, 323
Conn. 26, 30, 144 A.3d 420 (2016).
present case, the defendant's claim raises an issue of
statutory construction. Specifically, the defendant asserts
that the board improperly affirmed the decision of the
commissioner that the plaintiff's claim for benefits
related to his heart disease and myocardial infarction was
timely filed because, under § 7-433c, it was a separate
disease from the earlier diagnosed hypertension.
‘‘When interpreting the statutory provisions at
issue in the present case, we are mindful of the proposition
that all workers' compensation legislation, because of
its remedial nature, should be broadly construed in favor of
disabled employees. . . . This proposition applies as well to
the provisions of [§] 7-433c . . . because the
measurement of the benefits to which a § 7-433c claimant
is entitled is identical to the benefits that may be awarded
to a [claimant] under . . . [the Workers' Compensation
Act]. . . . We also recognize, however, that the filing of a
timely notice of claim is a condition precedent to liability
and a jurisdictional requirement that cannot be
waived.'' (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks
omitted.) Ciarlelli v. Hamden, 299 Conn. 265,
277-78, 8 A.3d 1093 (2010).
construing a statute, [o]ur fundamental objective is to
ascertain and give effect to the apparent intent of the
legislature. . . . In other words, we seek to determine, in a
reasoned manner, the meaning of the statutory language as
applied to the facts of [the] case, including the question of
whether the language actually does apply. . . . In seeking to
determine that meaning, General Statutes § 1-2z directs
us first to consider the text of the statute itself and its
relationship to other statutes. If, after examining such text
and considering such relationship, the meaning of such text
is plain and unambiguous and does not yield absurd or
unworkable results, extratextual evidence of the meaning of
the statute shall not be considered. . . . When a statute is
not plain and unambiguous, we also look for interpretive
guidance to the legislative history and circumstances
surrounding its enactment, to the legislative policy it was
designed to ...