JOHN M. LATTOZ, Petitioner-Appellant,
NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE AUTHORITY, Respondent-Respondent.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued March 4, 2013
On appeal from New Jersey Department of Labor, Division of Workers' Compensation, Claim Petition No. 2008-31179.
Andrew R. Topazio argued the cause for appellant (Marciano & Topazio, attorneys; Mr. Topazio, on the briefs).
Robert L. Ghelli argued the cause for respondent (McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, LLP, attorneys; Mr. Ghelli, of counsel and on the brief; Michael J. Greenwood, on the brief).
Before Judges Graves, Ashrafi and Espinosa.
Petitioner, an employee of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (the Authority), appeals from the dismissal of his workers' compensation claim on statute of limitations grounds. We affirm.
N.J.S.A. 34:15-34 provides in pertinent part:
[W]here a claimant knew the nature of the disability and its relation to the employment, all claims for compensation for compensable occupational disease except as herein provided shall be barred unless a petition is filed . . . within 2 years after the date on which the claimant first knew the nature of the disability and its relation to the employment . . . .
Claims for compensation not brought within the two-year period "shall be forever barred[.]" N.J.S.A. 34:15-41.
On November 11, 2008, petitioner filed a workers' compensation claim against the Authority. To be timely filed, this claim had to be filed no later than two years after the date when Lattoz "first knew the nature of the disability and its relation to [his] employment[.]"
The claim petition identified the injury as "bilateral knee replacements, both legs, orthopedic, neurological, neuropsychiatric." Petitioner stated that the occupational exposure that caused the injury was "12/1992 to 11/11/08 & continui[ng]." He further stated that the injury occurred because he "was exposed to constant use of body & limbs and constant forces used on his body."
The evidence revealed that petitioner first injured his left knee while playing football in 1972. He had surgery on his left knee in 1978 for a torn meniscus. He testified that he did not have any problems with or pain in his knee thereafter, and that he was ...