January 28, 2019
from the decision by the Workers' Compensation
Commissioner for the Sixth District denying the
plaintiff's motion to preclude the defendant from
contesting liability as to her claim for certain workers'
compensation benefits, brought to the Compensation Review
Board, which affirmed the commissioner's decision, and
the plaintiff appealed to this court. Reversed;
Jennifer B. Levine, with whom was Harvey L. Levine, for the
J. Hoddinott, with whom, on the brief, was Deborah J.
DelBarba, for the appellee (defendant).
DiPentima, C. J., and Elgo and Bright, Js.
plaintiff, Marcella Woodbury-Correa, appeals from the
decision of the Compensation Review Board (board) affirming
the decision of the Workers' Compensation Commissioner
(commissioner), denying the plaintiff's motion to
preclude the defendant, her employer, Reflexite
Corporation, from contesting liability for the repetitive
trauma injuries claimed and noticed on her form
On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the board (1) exceeded
its authority by making new factual findings that contradict
the findings made by the commissioner, and (2) erred in
affirming the commissioner's denial of the motion to
preclude the defendant from contesting liability for the
plaintiff's repetitive trauma injuries. We agree with
both claims and reverse the decision of the board.
begin with the underlying facts as found by the commissioner,
as well as the procedural history and uncontested facts as
revealed by the record. On April 17, 2009, the plaintiff had
an existing employment relationship with the defendant. On
that date, she filled out a form 30C claiming repetitive
trauma injuries, the symptoms of which, she alleged, began in
2003. She sent the form 30C via certified mail on April 18,
2009, both to the defendant and to the Workers'
Compensation Commission (commission). Both the commission and
the defendant received the form 30C on April 20, 2009. The
defendant did not file a proper and timely form 43 to dispute
liability. On February 24, 2014, pursuant to General
Statutes § 31-294c (b), the plaintiff filed a motion to
preclude the defendant from contesting liability for her
repetitive trauma injuries. Nearly one year later, on January
5, 2015, the defendant filed a written objection to the
plaintiff's motion on the ground that it had filed a form
43 in a timely manner.
commissioner found that the commission file reflected that
‘‘there were never any claims for indemnity or
medical benefits for the [plaintiff], '' and that the
‘‘first claim for benefits was . . . some five
years after the claimed date of injury.'' The
commissioner, thereafter, concluded that it was
‘‘impossible for the [defendant] to comply with
the statutory requirements to issue any benefit payments
during the [twenty-eight] day period following the filing of
the [plaintiff's] form 30C as no benefits were claimed,
'' and, on that basis, he denied the plaintiff's
motion to preclude the defendant from contesting liability.
The plaintiff filed a petition for review of the
commissioner's decision with the board.
hearing was held before the board on March 18, 2016. In a
June 22, 2016 written decision, the board affirmed the
commissioner's decision denying the plaintiff's
motion to preclude the defendant from contesting liability,
specifically agreeing, in part, that the defendant was not
able to file a timely form 43 due to
‘‘impossibility.'' This appeal followed.
Additional facts will be set forth as necessary.
reviewing the plaintiff's claims, we set forth the
applicable standard of review. ‘‘The commissioner
has the power and duty, as the trier of fact, to determine
the facts . . . and [n]either the . . . board nor this court
has the power to retry facts. . . . The conclusions drawn by
[the commissioner] from the facts found [also] 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 review 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 . . . . Furthermore,
[i]t is well established that, in resolving issues of
statutory construction under the [Workers' Compensation
Act (act), General Statutes § 31-275 et seq.], we are
mindful that the act indisputably is a remedial statute that
should be construed generously to accomplish its purpose. . .
. The humanitarian and remedial purposes of the act counsel
against an overly narrow construction that unduly limits
eligibility for workers' compensation. . . . Accordingly,
[i]n construing workers' compensation law, we must
resolve statutory ambiguities or lacunae in a manner that
will further the remedial purpose of the act. . . . [T]he
purposes of the act itself are best served by allowing the
remedial legislation a reasonable sphere of operation
considering those purposes. . . .
scope of review of the actions of the board is similarly
limited. . . . The role of this court is to determine whether
the review [board's] decision results from an incorrect
application of the law to the subordinate facts or from an
inference illegally or unreasonably drawn from
them.'' (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks
omitted.) Wiblyi v. McDonald's Corp., 168
Conn.App. 77, 84-86, 144 A.3d 1075 (2016).
deciding a motion to preclude, the commissioner must engage
[in] a two part inquiry. First, he must determine whether the
employee's notice of claim is adequate on its face. See
General Statutes § 31-294c (a). Second, he must decide
whether the employer failed to comply with § 31-294c
either by filing a notice to contest the claim or by
commencing payment on that claim within twenty-eight days of
the notice of claim. See General Statutes § 31-294c
If the notice of claim is adequate but the employer fails ...