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9.20.2011

Howd and Ludorf, LLC Successfully Defends Appeal Before the Connecticut Appellate Court in Workers’ Compensation Case

Howd and Ludorf, LLC Attorneys Colette S. Griffin and Melissa A. Federico successfully defended Connecticut Children’s Medical Center on appeal to the Connecticut Appellate Court in the workers’ compensation matter of Janel Jones v. CCMC.  Ms. Jones brought a workers’ compensation claim alleging that she sustained a psychological injury and neurogenic bladder, among other injuries, as a result of a motor vehicle accident.  The Trial Commissioner found that the claimant was not credible and, as such, her treating doctor’s opinion was also not credible due to the inconsistent medical histories provided by the claimant to all of the providers.  Despite these findings, he ruled that her psychological and neurogenic bladder claims were caused by the work-related accident, and agreed with her treating doctor that she sustained a 10% permanent partial disability to the brain.  

Attorneys Griffin and Federico successfully appealed the Commissioner’s decision to the Compensation Review Board, arguing that the Trial Commissioner’s conclusions regarding causation of the psychological and neurogenic bladder injuries, as well as the 10% disability, were not supported by the record and were inconsistent with the Commissioner’s other findings and conclusions. The CRB agreed and reversed those findings.  The claimant appealed the CRB’s decision to the Connecticut Appellate Court, claiming that the CRB improperly reversed the Trial Commissioner’s findings and orders.  The claimant also sought to preclude CCMC from contesting the claimed injuries.

The Appellate Court affirmed the CRB’s decision and agreed with the position taken by Attorney Griffin and Attorney Federico that the claimant had failed to sustain her burden of proof with respect to the claimed injuries at issue.  As to the neurogenic bladder, the Appellate Court found that the claimant’s treating urologist could not testify based on a reasonable degree of medical probability that the accident was a significant factor, given the lack of medical evidence regarding head trauma and the fact that she based her conclusions on an incorrect history provided by the claimant.  The Appellate Court would not consider the claimant’s preclusion argument, finding that it was improperly raised on appeal because she failed to litigate the issue at the trial level or to the CRB.

The Appellate Court’s decision emphasizes the need for the Workers’ Compensation Trial Commissioners to be consistent in their Findings  and Orders.  It also establishes additional framework as to what Connecticut courts find sufficient to warrant reversal of a Trial Commissioner’s findings on issues of causation.  

The decision is reported at Jones v. CCMC at 131 Conn.App. 415 (2011).

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