Tuesday, February 7, 2012

City Tells Police Office CPR Injury Not Job Related

The Hartford Courant reports (1/19/12) what can only be characterized as a bizarre legal opinion from the New Britain, Connecticut city attorney.  My apologies to the Courant for quoting so extensively from the article, but unfortunately, the Courant does not allow access to its archive for long. According to the article:

On Nov. 11, [New Britain police officer Frank] Barbagiovanni was dispatched to a house where a 10-year-boy had stopped breathing. As soon as he got out of his patrol car, the mother ran to him with the unconscious boy, and Barbagiovanni began CPR until paramedics arrived and took over. The boy later died at the Hospital of Central Connecticut.

Because the boy vomited on the officer's face and in his open mouth during CPR, supervisors directed Barbagiovanni to file a report documenting that he had potentially been exposed to communicable diseases.

City attorneys later notified him that the incident was not "causally related to a work-related condition" – and that they would contest workers compensation if he applied for it.

Officer Barbagiovanni, understandably upset, commented, "I thought the city would want me to try and save a life, they trained me in the skills to do so... The city on one hand cannot demand and acknowledge we expose ourselves to threats of injury and then state that we do not have to."

The city attorney's inexplicable letter and opinion is bad enough, but a spokesman for the New Britain mayor managed to compound the embarrassment.  In a follow up story (1/20/12) reporting that the mayor called Barbagiovanni to his office to apologize to him, the Courant reports:

The section of the city's attorney's letter was merely "boilerplate," language common in any worker's compensation correspondence, said Phil Sherwood, an aide to [the mayor].

"Any reasonable person would understand that the attorney wasn't saying CPR isn't part of a police officer's duties," Sherwood said, who said the mayor applauds Barbagiovanni's work at the emergency call.

So, if you read the two articles together, it is clear that the policy of the City of New Britain is to deny and challenge ALL workers' compensation claims, regardless of reason, justice, the law and, of course, the facts that should have been understood by "any reasonable person." Isn't this a plot line right out of a Grisham novel (The Rainmaker)?

Truth is stranger than fiction.

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