Lopez v. EC Tree, LLC
When an appellant fails to delineate what their claims of legal error are, the appellees may reasonably argue that they have been prejudiced by the manner in which the appeal has been prosecuted. The trial commissioner found that the claimant, Heriberto Lopez was hired by the respondent-employer, EC Tree LLC to cut trees. The respondent's principal acknowledged that Lopez was injured at one of its jobs but argued that he was an independent contractor. The commissioner found that Lopez was paid by the hour and supplied tools to perform his work and, that an employer-employee relationship existed. The commissioner awarded Lopez benefits and further found that the respondent was not insured for workers' compensation when the claimant sustained the compensable injury. The respondent filed a motion to correct. One correction was granted that did not materially change the finding and award. The respondent then filed a timely petition for review and reasons for appeal. The claimant and First Comp Insurance filed appellate briefs. Counsel for First Comp also filed a motion to dismiss for want of prosecution. The respondent's counsel advised the board that they would rely on the documents already filed and waived attendance at oral argument. The Compensation Review Board dismissed the appeal as the respondent did not file a brief in support of their appeal or attend the hearing before the board. The board's precedent clearly states that when an appellant fails to file a brief, the board may grant a motion to dismiss under Practice Book §85-1. On the merits, the trial commissioner followed the appropriate legal standards governing cancellation of insurance coverage in his finding and award. The facts as found by the commissioner were consistent with the 2010 case of Yelunin v. Royal Ride Transportation where the Appellate Court held that C.G.S. §31-348 requires a carrier only to prove it notified the Workers' Compensation Commission via the National Council on Compensation Insurance when it was canceling insurance coverage. Any arguments as to the adequacy of notice to the insured party were immaterial.