A rehabilitation center nurse who fractured her pelvis at work as a result of her own struggle with cancer has been awarded $200,000 in state compensation.
Dale Perry, a nurse at Avon Health Center for about 10 years, fractured her pelvis at work in 2014. The fracture was attributed to brittleness associated with cancer in the bone.
Though the claim did not cite a specific traumatic incident at work, the fact that Perry was working at the time of the fracture qualified her for workers’ compensation, Reilly said.
“The injury did occur in the course of her work duties,” Reilly said Thursday. “It was deemed by her physician to be a work-related injury.” That work injury, Reilly said, led to costs associated with pain management and numerous visits to a psychiatrist. Avon Health Center, a short-term rehabilitation and long-term care center, was declared responsible for the costs.
Avon Health Center, Reilly said, contested the extent of her injury and the need for medical attention associated to it. In addition, Reilly said, Perry was both medically and vocationally disabled from the fracture. Under the guidelines of the state’s workers’ compensation rules medically disabled means an individual is not able to work and vocationally disabled means that it is unlikely an employer would hire him or her.
“Avon claimed she had limited work capacity,” Reilly said.
The two sides negotiated over two months and finally agreed on awarding Perry $200,000. That amount was signed off on by Fifth District Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Stephen Morelli on Jan. 19.
Reilly said he initially asked for about $500,000, and the company’s initial offer was about $100,000. Reilly said he believed Avon Health Center and its insurance carrier, the Wallingford-based Workers’ Compensation Trust, agreed on the $200,00 settlement because “they had a lot of risks if they did not agree to it. The odds, I believe, were very good that if we had a formal hearing, my client would have been found to be totally disabled. Ongoing pain management treatment and psychiatric treatment are not cheap and they would have been responsible for that.”
The respondents were represented by Denise Morelli, of Letizia, Ambrose & Falls in New Haven. Morelli, who is no relation to Stephen Morelli, did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Reilly said the case was frustrating for Perry, who left the job on her own accord soon after the injury, because the company contested the disability, claiming she had limited work capacity. “She had not gotten paid anything in more than a year,” Reilly said. “This will help her get out of the [financial] hole. Ideally, she will enjoy the money moving forward and this will help her in putting her life together.”
Reilly added: “She is extremely happy to have this behind her. It was not just about going without the money, but also the stress of the fight. She is also trying to get around on a daily basis with basically a broken hip that will never heal.”
Reilly noted that Perry’s claim was initiated automatically as a process of law when someone is injured on the job. “She has a husband and this has a been a strain on both of them. They are both at retirement age and he has not been able to retire because of this.”
Reilly said Perry has lived with the cancer for about seven years. She also gets chemotherapy treatment on a regular basis. “Her tumors are stable and are not growing,” Reilly said. “She is optimistic it will remain that way, but there are no guarantees.”