Tanguay v. Rent-A-Center, Incorporated
Connecticut General Statutes §31-294c(b) provides that any employer who fails to either contest liability or commence payment for an alleged injury or death on or before the 28th day after receiving a written notice of claim shall be conclusively presumed to have accepted the compensability of the alleged injury or death and unlike C.G.S.§31-294c(c), which specifically requires a showing of prejudice on the part of the respondent in order to defeat a defective notice of claim, C.G.S. §31-294c(b) includes no such requirement. The claimant, Robert Tanguay, employed by the respondent, Rent-A-Center, asserted that he sustained an injury to his right knee on Jan. 14, 2011, while pushing a vehicle stuck in the snow. On Feb. 23, 2011, the respondents, the employer and claims manager, filed a Form 43 disclaiming Tanguay's left knee injury. On April 5, 2011, Tanguay filed a Form 30C claiming a right knee and back injury. Three months later, on July 11, 2011, the respondents filed a second Form 43 contesting the right knee injury. The respondents paid no medical or indemnity benefits. The claimant provided a prima facie medical report establishing causation for the right knee injury and filed a motion to preclude. The trial commissioner granted the motion and denied the respondents' motion to correct. The respondents appealed challenging the determination that their Form 43 was insufficient to put the claimant on notice of the claim's contest. The Compensation Review Board reversed the decision concluding that the commissioner misapplied the law governing preclusion and erred in denying the motion to correct. Given the general tenor of board precedent reversing decisions granting motions to preclude for technical deficiencies, the board did not concur with the trial commissioner that the defect in the disclaimer constituted a sufficiently substantive error such that the granting of a motion to preclude was warranted. Although the respondents asserted that the claimant neither demonstrated nor claimed prejudice from the defective Form 43, the board pointed out that C.G.S. §31-294c(b) includes no prejudice requirement. None could be persuasively claimed here. Allowing the claimant to prevail on his motion to preclude would constitute an inequity.