Grogan v. City of New Britain

Decision Date23 May 1978
Citation397 A.2d 97,175 Conn. 174
PartiesWilliam GROGAN v. CITY OF NEW BRITAIN.
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court

Andrew S. Aharonian, City Atty., for appellant (defendant).

Harold J. Geragosian, New Britain, for appellee (plaintiff).

Before COTTER, C. J., and LOISELLE, BOGDANSKI, LONGO and HEALEY, JJ.

LOISELLE, Associate Justice.

The plaintiff appealed to the Court of Common Pleas from a decision of the workmen's compensation commissioner that, in accordance with the provisions of General Statutes §§ 7-435 and 7-436, the plaintiff's workmen's compensation payments were to be credited against the pension payments owing to him and that he had therefore received all of the workmen's compensation benefits due him. The court, on appeal, reversed the commissioner's decision, determining that the pension benefits the plaintiff received were not subject to the statutory limitations set forth in General Statutes §§ 7-435 and 7-436 and that, consequently, the plaintiff had not received all the workmen's compensation benefits due to him. From this judgment, the defendant has appealed to this court.

The facts as found by the commissioner are as follows: The plaintiff was employed by the city of New Britain as a supernumerary police officer from April 12, 1949, until January 7, 1952, when he became a regular full-time officer for the city's police department. During the course of his employment, the plaintiff injured his back on several occasions. He required extensive medical attention, was hospitalized at various times, and underwent surgery on five separate occasions. Since the final operation, on February 28, 1969, the plaintiff has been totally disabled from employment. He reached his maximum level of improvement on November 28, 1969, at which point he had a 75 percent permanent partial loss of the use of his back, which continued to render him permanently and totally disabled with respect to his employment. On July 11, 1970, the plaintiff was involuntarily retired on a disability pension, which he has, since that date, been receiving from the city of New Britain.

The plaintiff's monthly pension payments are based upon one half of a sergeant's annual salary of $10,800, plus increases based upon one half of the salary increase received by an active sergeant. Since the date of his retirement, the plaintiff has been entitled to workmen's compensation benefits of $57 per week, plus a cost of living allowance of $15 based upon his last back injury, plus weekly cost of living increases. The pension payments are, then, greater than the workmen's compensation benefits to which he is entitled.

On the basis of these facts, the commissioner found that "(t)he claimant is receiving the above described pension payments as limited by Section 7-435 and/or 7-436 C.G.S. Each of these statutes provides that pension payments are to be adjusted by first crediting Workmen's Compensation payments against the pension payment due to the claimant." This finding necessarily led to the conclusion that "(t)he claimant has received all of the Workmen's Compensation benefits due to him to the date of these hearings."

On appeal, the court corrected the findings to include the fact that the pension which the plaintiff had been receiving did not come under the provisions of the Municipal Employees' Retirement Act, chapter 113, part II, of the General Statutes, but rather derived from § 1959 of the city charter. 30 Special Acts 404, 461, No. 420. This determination that the pension which the plaintiff receives is not subject to the statutory provisions relied upon by the commissioner led to the conclusion that the plaintiff had, since his retirement, received only the pension benefits due him, but none of the workmen's compensation benefits to which he was entitled.

On appeal to this court, the defendant first claims error in the court's correction of the finding, apparently claiming that the court was without power to do this in the absence of a determination that the commissioner's conclusion was unreasonable. With this blanket assertion, we cannot agree. As this court has often stated: " 'The commissioner's ultimate conclusions are tested by the subordinate facts found, and they stand unless they result from an incorrect application of the law to those facts or from an inference illegally or unreasonably drawn from them.' Balkus v. Terry Steam Turbine Co., (167 Conn. 170, 174, 355 A.2d 227)." Rivera v. Guida's Dairy,167 Conn. 524, 526, 356 A.2d 184, 186. Further, "when a motion to correct the finding has been denied by the commissioner, (the court) may be called upon to review the record to determine whether there was any evidence to support the findings. Practice Book §§ 435, 437; General Statutes § 4-183(g)(5); see Balkus v. Terry Steam Turbine Co., 167 Conn. 170, 174, 355 A.2d 227." Glenn v. Stop & Shop, Inc., 168 Conn. 413, 416, 362 A.2d 512, 514. The finding will not be corrected unless it contains facts found without evidence or omits material facts that are admitted or undisputed. Wheat v. Red Star Express Lines, 156 Conn. 245, 248, 240 A.2d 859. In the present case, the requisite procedure was followed by the plaintiff. The court reviewed the findings, adding the material and admitted fact that the pension the plaintiff receives derives from the city's charter, and, concluding on the basis of that fact, that the statutes applied by the commissioner were inapplicable to this case. By so doing, the court acted, not only as it was authorized to act, but, indeed, as it was bound to act under the circumstances of this case.

The basic issue before this court is, then, whether, on the facts before us, the court erred in concluding that the plaintiff was entitled to his full workmen's compensation benefits undiminished by being offset against his greater disability pension benefits.

Although courts, when confronted with the question now before us, have reached widely differing results, largely dependent on the differences in the relevant statutes, it appears that, as a general rule, the amount of a pension to which a disabled employee is entitled is not deductible from the compensation accruing to him in the absence of a statute providing otherwise. 99 C.J.S. Workmen's Compensation § 330(e); 4 Larson, Workmen's Compensation Law § 97.41; see also Application of Smith, 57 N.J. 368, 273 A.2d 24. In reaching his determination that the existence of the plaintiff's pension diminished the amount of compensation owing to him, the commissioner relied upon General Statutes §§ 7-435 and 7-436, those provisions of the Municipal Employees' Retirement Act designating the amount of benefits members were entitled to receive. Both of these provisions contain the statement that "(a)ny amount or amounts received under the workmen's compensation act shall be deducted from such allowance."

The mandate of those provisions does not, however, come into effect unless and until a municipality has, in accordance with the delineated procedure, elected to participate in the state retirement plan. General Statutes § 7-427. There is no evidence that the city of New Britain has made such an election. On the contrary, the evidence supports the court's finding that the pension which the plaintiff receives derives, not from the state act, but from § 1959 of the city charter. 30 Special Acts 404, 461, No. 420.

As this court has previously noted, "(t)he city of New Britain operates under a special charter granted by the General Assembly in 1961. 30 Spec. Acts 404, No. 420." First Church of Christ, Scientist v. Friendly Ice Cream, 161 Conn. 223, 225, 286 A.2d 320, 321. Section 1959 1 of the charter, entitled ...

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7 cases
  • Ryszkiewicz v. City of New Britain
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • 10 Julio 1984
    ...404, No. 420.' First Church of Christ, Scientist v. Friendly Ice Cream, 161 Conn. 223, 225, 286 A.2d 320 [1971]." Grogan v. New Britain, 175 Conn. 174, 179, 397 A.2d 97 (1978). As set forth above, § 2709 specifically limits to $1000 the city's liability for damages from injuries caused by s......
  • Perretta v. City of New Britain
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • 28 Julio 1981
    ...constitution, General Statutes § 2-14, and the Home Rule Act; General Statutes §§ 7-187 through 7-201. Grogan v. New Britain, 175 Conn. 174, 179, 397 A.2d 97 (1978); First Church of Christ, Scientist v. Friendly Ice Cream, 161 Conn. 223, 225, 286 A.2d 320 (1971).5 "(New Britain city charter......
  • Pokorny v. Getta's Garage
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • 7 Agosto 1990
    ...on workers' compensation awards for reimbursement for benefits or services furnished and our Supreme Court, in Grogan v. New Britain, 175 Conn. 174, 181-82, 397 A.2d 97 (1978), has concluded that, absent a statute, an employer is not entitled to a deduction or a setoff. Thereafter, however,......
  • Jett v. Dunlap
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • 13 Noviembre 1979
    ...Conn. 529, 531, 72 A.2d 655 (1950); Hoard v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 122 Conn. 185, 188, 188 A. 269 (1936); see also Grogan v. New Britain, 175 Conn. 174, 181, 397 A.2d 97 (1978). This well-established principle is not eroded when the plaintiff alleges an intentional tort by his The plaintiff ......
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