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Hypertension history doesn’t foil officer’s heart attack claim

Hypertension history doesn’t foil officer’s heart attack claim

A Connecticut police officer’s prior hypertension diagnosis did not preclude him from seeking workers compensation for heart disease, even though his hypertension claim fell outside of a one-year statute of limitations under Connecticut law, the state Supreme Court has ruled.

According to court records, Reginald Holston was hired as a police officer for the City of New Haven, Connecticut in 1996. When he was hired, Mr. Holston passed a pre-employment physical examination that did not reveal any evidence of hypertension or heart disease.

In 2011, Mr. Holston suffered a heart attack. He underwent an angioplasty and stent implantation following a diagnosis of heart disease. He was hospitalized for four days after the procedure and was out of work for three or four months, court records show.

Mr. Holston, who had been diagnosed with hypertension in 2009, was prescribed several medications for his heart disease, according to court filings. In 2011, he filed a claim for workers comp benefits related to hypertension and heart disease.

A Connecticut workers comp commissioner concluded that Mr. Holston’s claim for benefits related to hypertension was untimely because it was filed more than one year after he became aware of his diagnosis, records show. However, the commissioner granted workers comp benefits for Mr. Holston’s heart disease as a separate condition.

While the commissioner found that Mr. Holston’s preexisting hypertension was a significant contributing factor in his heart disease, the commissioner also ruled that Mr. Holston’s high cholesterol and gender were significant contributing factors in the development of his heart disease, according to court filings. The New Haven Police Department appealed the decision, which was upheld by the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Review Board.

The Connecticut Supreme Court unanimously upheld Mr. Holston’s workers comp benefit award on Monday.

In its ruling, the high court noted that Connecticut law provides benefits for uniformed fire and police department employees who suffer "any condition or impairment of health caused by hypertension or heart disease resulting in his death or his temporary or permanent, total or partial disability." The law states that public officers must pass a pre-employment physical exam showing a lack of hypertension or heart disease in order to qualify for the presumption.

The high court said Mr. Holston filed for benefits shortly after being diagnosed with heart disease, thereby qualifying for benefits.

"Specifically, it is undisputed that his preemployment physical revealed no evidence of hypertension or heart disease. It is further undisputed that he suffered a myocardial infarction that was caused by heart disease and resulted in a surgical procedure, hospitalization and continuing disability. He filed his claim for benefits related to the heart disease within four days of its manifestation," the ruling reads.


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