Case name: Mehan v. City of Stamford, et al., No. AC 31648 (Conn. App. Ct. 04/05/11).
Ruling: The Connecticut Appellate Court held that a firefighter who gave notice of his claim to an assistant fire chief properly gave his employer notice of his claim, and he was entitled to benefits.
What it means: In Connecticut, a worker can give notice of a claim to an agent of his employer triggering the employer's obligation to file a notice contesting the claim.
A firefighter for a city suffered chest pains while fighting a fire. He was taken to a hospital for treatment and an examination, which showed that he did not suffer a myocardial infarction. The firefighter continued to suffer chest pains and underwent a cardiac catheterization. The firefighter learned that he had preexisting coronary artery disease. Following the incident, the firefighter filled out a notice of workers' compensation claim form, but he left the "injury section" blank and he did not sign it. He gave the partially completed form to the assistant fire chief. The chief filled out the rest of the form and signed it as the firefighter's representative. The form was never delivered to the city's human resources department, where the chief usually sent such forms. The Connecticut Appellate Court held that the firefighter was entitled to benefits.
The court concluded that the firefighter's timely notice of his claim to the chief constituted timely notice of the claim to the city even though the chief did not bring the form to the city's human resources department. The chief was an agent of the city with authority to act on the city's behalf in the processing of workers' compensation claims. This notice triggered the city's obligation to file a notice contesting the claim, which it did not do.
The court also found that the work-related coronary incident the firefighter suffered was a substantial contributing factor in the aggravation of his preexisting coronary artery disease, contrary to the city's argument. The treating physician opined that before the work-related event, the firefighter's coronary artery disease was stable. The doctor said that after the incident the firefighter had an increase in his anginal pattern.
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June 6, 2011
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