Gamez-Reyes v. Biagi, et al., No. AC 33459 (Conn. App. Ct. 06/12/12).
The Connecticut Appellate Court held that a worker was entitled to benefits for his back injury.
What it means: In Connecticut, a worker's alleged intoxication is not a jurisdictional bar for his claim for benefits but an employer's affirmative defense to compensability.
Summary: A worker for a landscaping company was standing on the top of a 15-foot ladder to prune a tall tree at a job site. The ladder rested on uneven ground and began to tip to one side. A coworker was unable to stabilize the ladder, and the worker fell to the ground and landed on his back. The worker underwent two surgeries to his back and sought benefits. The Connecticut Appellate Court held that the worker was entitled to benefits.
A contractor who worked with the employer said that he saw the worker drinking something from a brown paper bag at the job site, but he did not know what beverage was in the bag. He did not witness actions by the worker suggesting that he was intoxicated. The employer argued that the workers' compensation commissioner did not have jurisdiction over the claim because of evidence that the worker was intoxicated when he arrived at the hospital after the accident. The court disagreed with the employer's "novel" argument, stating that intoxication is not a jurisdictional fact but an affirmative defense to compensability.
Here, the employer failed to show that the blood chemistry report reflected that the worker was intoxicated. The court pointed out that the toxicology report was not introduced as evidence. The employer also did not show that the worker's accident was caused by his intoxication.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 6, 2012
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