Cadore v. State of Connecticut, University of Connecticut Health Center
The hazardous duty compensation statute, C.G.S. §5-142(a), provides coverage to an employee who is a "member" of a "correctional institution." Betty Cadore, a University of Connecticut Health Center nurse employed at the Bridgeport Correctional Facility since 1993, sustained a back injury while attempting to assist, for the first time, a paraplegic inmate being lifted into a prisoner transport van, rather than a handicapped accessible van. Cadore testified that the inmate resisted creating a "dead weight" causing her to slip and that she did not immediately feel pain due to her nervousness of being surrounded by prisoners in the van screaming at her. She claimed discomfort after returning to her station and missed more than two months of work. The commissioner considered a video of the event and found that Cadore was a credible witness but did not actually slip. The commissioner determined that Cadore qualified under C.G.S. §5-142(a) as a member of the correctional institution and that her injury was a direct result of the special hazards inherent in such duties. The respondent was ordered to pay for necessary medical treatment and indemnity benefits pursuant to C.G.S. §5-142(a). On appeal the respondent argued, inter alia, that C.G.S. §5-142(a) does not cover the claimant and that the incident did not rise to the level of a "special hazard." The Compensation Review Board affirmed the decision. No error was found in the trial commissioner's legal conclusion that the claimant was a "member" of the correctional facility for purposes of C.G.S. §5-142(a). The omission of the claimant's job title and employer from the enumerated employees in the act did not bar its applicability. The statute provides coverage to an employee who is a "member" of a "correctional institution." It was immaterial that her de jure employer was the Health Center. On a de facto basis, Cadore was an integral part of the facility's operation and permanently employed there. The commissioner's finding of a "special hazard" was upheld. The commissioner reasonably could have concluded that moving a physically handicapped prisoner to a transport van, under the circumstances described, went beyond the ordinary hazards of Cadore's work at the facility.