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Worker Compensation Official Rules that Judge Died of Overwork

November 28, 1988

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ A judge’s widow was awarded $21,000 a year in workers’ compensation by a commissioner who ruled her husband died of overwork and stress from his numerous state tasks.

Commissioner Rhoda Loeb ruled recently that Superior Court Judge Frank J. Kinney’s fatal heart attack two years ago was caused by stress and overwork from the legion of jobs he performed for the state Judicial Department.

She described Kinney as ″the epitome of the work ethic.″

″I would rather have my husband than the money,″ said Kinney’s wife, Joan. ″That means nothing to me. ... He was a very self-sacrificing person, and we always got along on very little.″

Kinney, who served 14 years on the bench, died in September 1986 at the age of 54. At the time, Kinney served as presiding criminal judge and administrative judge for the New Haven Judicial District, administrative judge for state criminal courts, chairman of a panel on grand juries and chairman of a commission on alternative sentencing.

Chief Court Administrator Aaron Ment, a witness at the compensation hearing, said that after Kinney’s death, it was decided that no one judge would ever again be asked to assume so many jobs for the department.

Loeb’s ruling marked the first time in state history that a judge was found entitled to benefits under the Workers Compensation Law, said Brewster Blackall, the assistant state attorney general who opposed the claim.

The state, which is appealing, had argued that judges are appointed officials who do not fit the compensation law’s definition of employees.

Loeb awarded Mrs. Kinney a stipend of $408 a week for life, retroactive to her husband’s death. She was already receiving $20,000 a year from her husband’s pension benefits.

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