IRVING J. AUSTIN (Deceased), CLAIMANT-APPELLANT vs. ROY BROTHERS, INC., EMPLOYER and FIREMAN’S FUND INSURANCE CO., INSURER, RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES

CASE NO. 342 CRD-6-84Workers’ Compensation Commission
OCTOBER 19, 1987

The claimant was represented by Lester Katz, Esq., Katz Seligman.

The respondents were represented by Robert D. McGann, Esq., McGann, Bartlett Brown.

This Petition for Review from the August 14, 1984 Finding and Award of the Commissioner for the Sixth District was heard December 13, 1985 before a Compensation Review Division panel consisting of the Commission Chairman, John Arcudi, and Commissioners A. Paul Berte and Frank J. Verrilli.

OPINION

JOHN ARCUDI, Chairman.

Facts stipulated by the parties and found by the Sixth District Commissioner disclose that claimant’s decedent was killed in a motor vehicle accident on I-91 in Middletown on January 13, 1982 while driving a truck in the course of his employment with the respondent-employer. At the time of death decedent was a New Hampshire resident. The employer is a Massachusetts corporation with no place of business in Connecticut. A contract of employment between the decedent and the respondent-employer had been executed in the State of Massachusetts. Dependent survivors’ benefits have been paid under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Law, but claimants while pursuing Massachusetts benefits specifically reserved their right to claim under Connecticut law also.

In reliance on the place of the employment contract rule, Falvey v. Sprague Meter Co., 111 Conn. 693 (1930); Hopkins v. Matchless Metal Polish Co., 99 Conn. 457 (1923), the trial Commissioner dismissed the claim for lack of Connecticut jurisdiction. However, as we stated in LaVogue v. Cincinnati, Inc., 263 CRD-1-83, 3 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 51, 53, Simaitis v. Flood, 182 Conn. 24 (1980) has applied new conceptual considerations other than the place of contract for resolving conflicts of law problem in workers’ compensation. Simaitis adopted the interests analysis approach advocated by Professor Larson and by the Restatement.

Six years later in O’Connor v. O’Connor, 201 Conn. 632
(1986), Chief Justice Peters wrote a carefully reasoned opinion for a unanimous court endorsing Justice Parskey’s Simaitis analysis. O’Connor stated, “Our decision in Simaitis has rightly been interpreted as a signal that we are not wholeheartedly committed to application of lex loci as the sole approach to choice of law in all tort cases”, id., 638. The decision cited Herald Publishing Co. v. Bill, 142 Conn. 53, 62
(1955): “We have also recognized, however, that principles of law which serve one generation well may, by reason of changing conditions, disserve a later one'”, id., 639.

The Chief Justice’s language is especially relevant to Workers’ Compensation choice of law problems. When Hopkins v. Matchless Metal Polish Co., supra, was decided in 1923 Connecticut Workers’ Compensation obligations were based on a voluntary contract between employee and employer.

“But in 1959 the voluntary nature of the Workers’ Compensation obligation ended when Connecticut made its law compulsory. By then the Depression, the New Deal and two World Wars had caused vast changes in the constitutional climate which gave rise to Hoxie v. New York, N.H.
H.R.R. Co., 82 Conn. 352 (1909), and Ives v. South Buffalo Ry., 201 N.Y. 271, 94 N.E. 431 (1911).”

LaVogue v. Cincinnati, Inc., supra, 53.

O’Connor now dictates that we follow Professor Larson and the Restatement. Therefore, one of the interests or contacts which must be considered in the instant matter is the very place of injury where the fatal accident occurred, i.e. the State of Connecticut.

The trial Commissioner must consider in the light of all the interests present, not solely the place of the employment contract, whether Connecticut has jurisdiction. We remand for such consideration.

Commissioners A. Paul Berte and Frank J. Verrilli concur.

[1] 4 Larson, Workmen’s Compensation Law Sec. 85.60.

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[2] Section 181 of the Restatement (Second) 1 Conflict of Laws provides:

Section 181. Permissible Range of Territorial Application. A State of the United States may consistently with the requirements of due process award relief to a person under its workmen’s compensation statute, if

(a) the person is injured in the State, or

(b) the employment is principally located in the State, or

(c) the employer supervised the employee’s activities from a place of business in the State, or

(d) the State is that of most significant relationship to the contract of employment with respect to the issue of workmen’s compensation under the rules of Sections 187-188 and 196, or

(e) the parties have agreed in the contract of employment or otherwise that their rights should be determined under the workmen’s compensation act of the State, or

(f) the State has some other reasonable relationship to the occurrence, the parties and the employment.

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