Duntz v. Ales Roofing and Caulking Company
The plain meaning of Connecticut General Statutes §31-294d(a)(1) is rather unambiguous; once the respondent is aware of a compensable injury, it is his or her duty to furnish appropriate care for the injury and there is no time limitation in the statute. In the late 1990s, Vernard Duntz, Jr., sustained a compensable injury while working for the respondent, Ales Roofing and Caulking Company. Duntz relocated to the South and obtained authorization from the Workers' Compensation Commission to treat with Dr. James Nunley at the Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina. He had not been examined by Dr. Nunley for an extended period of time when his counsel again sought commission approval for Duntz to be re-examined. Respondent's counsel objected claiming that an intervening event may have occurred and the claimant should present evidence of causation. The respondent declined to depose the claimant. The trial commissioner ordered the examination to occur. The respondent appealed, arguing that the claimant was obligated to present evidence demonstrating causation of his current medical condition prior to the treatment's approval. Unpersuaded, the Compensation Review Board affirmed the order. There is no time limitation in C.G.S. §31-294d(a)(1). While there may have been delays in this case, such delays do not bar the trial commissioner authorizing additional treatment. The respondent's apparent argument that Connecticut lost jurisdiction over the claim after the claimant relocated was rejected. The trial commissioner is the ultimate judge of what modalities of treatment at what locations constitute reasonable or necessary treatment for the injuries. There is an appropriate means for a respondent to seek to discontinue treatment or benefits for a compensable injury—the respondent can file a Form 43 or 36 with appropriate documentation seeking the commission's approval to discontinue benefits or treatment. The respondent failed to take this action.