Marchand v. The Phineas Corporation D/B/A/ Sunrise Group
Connecticut precedent does not impute the negligence of the Postal Service to the sender of mail. Elizabeth Marchand sustained a compensable shoulder injury while working for The Phineas Corporation D/B/A Sunrise Group. A settlement agreement of $300,000 was reached. Marchand agreed to waive the 20 percent penalty in C.G.S. §31-303, if payment was made and received within 20 days after the stipulation's approval, which occurred on July 9, 2010. The employer's carrier at the time of injury, Liberty Mutual, paid $245,000. The Second Injury Fund was to pay $55,000. The Fund printed a check on July 30, 2010 and mailed it to Marchand. Marchand notified Fund employees on Aug. 13, 2010 and Aug. 23, 2010, that she had not received it. A second check, sent by certified mail on Sept. 9, 2010, was received the next day. The original check, with postage cancelled on Aug. 12, 2010, was received by the State Comptroller's office in a damaged envelope. Marchand sought penalties for late payment. The commissioner found that the Fund first mailed the check on the 12th business day after the stipulation was approved and, following the failed delivery, its actions were reasonable, appropriate and non-dilatory. He determined that Marchand failed to prove entitlement to the 20 percent late payment penalty under either the agreement or C.G.S. §31-303. Marchand appealed. The Compensation Review Board affirmed the finding and dismissal. The claimant admitted that the Fund issued a timely check and mailed it to her in sufficient time that it should have arrived within the deadline. Nonetheless, she argued, inter alia, that as the Fund failed to utilize certified mail, they should bear the risk of loss for the Postal Service's negligence. The board disagreed. Had the parties believed it was essential that the settlement check be delivered in a more secure and timely manner than ordinary mail, the parties should have said so in the agreement. The trial commissioner reasonably concluded that the agreement was complied with when the Fund mailed the check anticipating it would be received before the deadline. C.G.S. §31-303 does not support the imposition of sanctions absent negligence on the part of the respondent.