Connecticut Police Officer’s Failure to File Timely Hypertension Claim No Bar to Subsequent Claim Related to Myocardial Infarction

Connecticut, like a host of other states, has a special presumption that aids police officers (and some other first responders) who pass a physical exam at the time of hiring that fails to reveal any evidence “of hypertension or heart disease,” and who later suffer a condition or impairment brought about by hypertension or heart disease [see Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7–433c]. Where a police officer passed a 1996 physical exam that revealed no evidence of hypertension or heart disease and was subsequently diagnosed with hypertension in 2009 (although he filed no claim for that condition), his claim for workers’ compensation benefits filed in 2011, four days after he suffered a myocardial infarction, was timely, held the Supreme Court of Connecticut [see Holston v. New Haven Police Dep’t, 2016 Conn. LEXIS 340 (Nov. 22, 2016)].

His failure to file a claim for hypertension within one year of that diagnosis was not fatal to his subsequent claim for heart disease, in spite of the fact that the hypertension was one of several contributing causes of his infarction, indicated the Court. The plain language of § 7–433c, including the repeated use of the disjunctive phrase “hypertension or heart disease,” indicated that the legislature intended for those two conditions to be treated separately. The Court added that the medical evidence in the case supported the board’s conclusion that the plaintiff’s hypertension and heart disease were separate medical conditions.

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