Current Issues in the Workers’ Compensation System- A10

The Workplace Track
Workers’ Compensation Section

Session A: 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

About the Program
Learn about the last year in Workers’ Compensation law and legislation. Hear from the agency chairman about current issues facing the workers’ compensation system. Get an overview of the biopsychosocial model for treating pain which, according to recent research, can lead to decreased healthcare costs and provide physicians with additional treatment interventions that may or may not include opioids.

 You Will Learn

  • The latest workers’ compensation case law from decisions rendered by the Compensation Review Board and Connecticut courts
  • About recent legislative developments
  • About issues of interest from the perspective of the chairman
  • About the “biopsychosocial model” of care
  • How Colorado ensured a biopsychosocial approach was followed in the state worker’s compensation system, and estimated cost-savings


Francis “Bud” X. Drapeau, Leighton Katz & Drapeau, Vernon

Attorney Drapeau is a partner in the firm of Leighton, Katz & Drapeau with a principal office in Vernon. His practice consists primarily of representing claimants in the workers’ compensation forum and on appeal. Attorney Drapeau is a Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist. He has lectured on various workers’ compensation topics for both the Connecticut Bar Association and the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association.

He is a member of the Workers’ Compensation Section of the Connecticut Bar Association, the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association, and the Tolland County Bar Association of which he is past President. He currently sits on the both the Executive Committee of the Workers’ Compensation Section of the Connecticut Bar Association and the Examining Committee for Board Certification as a Workers’ Compensation Specialist.


Stephen M. Morelli, Chairman, State of Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission, Hartford

Chairman Stephen Morelli received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Connecticut in 1983 and his law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1986. He is admitted to the practice of law in both Connecticut’s and California’s State and Federal Courts. 

After graduating from law school he entered the Peace Corps as an ESL instructor in Thailand.  Subsequent to that service he was admitted to practice law in California and worked for a private practice in California.  In 1995 he returned to Connecticut, working in private practice, until his appointment as a Workers’ Compensation Commissioner, in August of 2012.  Chairman Morelli has also served four terms on the Berlin Town Council and three terms as Deputy Mayor of the Town of Berlin.   While his private practice in Connecticut was varied, the majority of Chairman Morelli’s experience was in the area of employment law.  Prior to beginning his current role as the Workers’ Compensation Commission Chairman in May 2018, Chairman Morelli served in the New Britain, Norwich, Hartford and Waterbury District Offices. 

Traci Cipriano, Traci Cipriano, JD, PhD LLC; Yale School of Medicine, New Haven

Traci Cipriano, JD, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist and a licensed non-practicing attorney.  She obtained her doctoral and law degrees from the University of Connecticut.  She is licensed to practice psychology in Connecticut.  Her bar admissions include Connecticut (inactive), New York (retired), and the United States District Court, District of Connecticut.  During law school, she was an associate editor of the Connecticut Journal of International Law.  

Dr. Cipriano is a member of the clinical faculty at the Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Law and Psychiatry Division, where she provides clinical supervision to psychology fellows, supervises and co-authors psychology fellow journal articles, participates in weekly forensic case conferences, and teaches seminars.  She is currently serving a 3-year elected term on the American Psychological Association Practice Organization’s Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice, the primary governance committee within the association. Dr. Cipriano received the Connecticut Psychological Association’s award for Distinguished Contribution to the Practice of Psychology in 2015.  She served as a consulting clinical supervisor in the Yale Psychology Department for 7 years, where she provided clinical supervision to doctoral candidates.  She held the position of director of professional affairs for the Connecticut Psychological Association from 2012 – 2018, where her work included public education and advocacy on the state and federal levels. She was CPA’s legislative chair from 2011 – 2017.  Dr. Cipriano is trained and certified in mediation. 

John P. Clarkson, Law Offices of Cynthia M. Garraty, Hartford

Attorney Clarkson is the Workers’ Compensation Practice Group Leader at the Law Offices of Dean E. Weddal, the Travelers Staff Counsel office in Hartford. He received the BA in Religion and Greek from Connecticut College in 1976 and a JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1979. Attorney Clarkson stayed on at the law school for a one-year appointment as a Legal Writing and Moot court instructor from 1979 to 1980 after which he served as counsel to the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commissioner from 1980 to 1981. He joined his present firm, then known as the Law Offices of Geoffrey Naab, in 1981, where he handled a mixed caseload including auto, property, civil rights, product liability, uninsured motorist, subrogation and workers’ compensation claims in state and federal courts and administrative agencies at all levels. Attorney Clarkson left the firm in 1991 to join the Middletown firm of Poliner, Poliner & Antin, where he represented personal injury plaintiffs and workers’ compensation claimants for eight years. In 1999 he returned to Travelers to take his present position as Workers’ Compensation Practice Group leader. Attorney Clarkson has published articles in the Connecticut Law Review, Connecticut Bar Journal and the Compensation Quarterly and is a speaker on workers’ compensation issues at continuing legal education and insurance and human resources trade group seminars.  

Lucas D. Strunk, Strunk Dodge Aiken Zovas LLC, Rocky Hill

Attorney Strunk, a 1979 graduate of the College of Holy Cross, is a partner in the firm Strunk Dodge Aiken Zovas, LLC of Rocky Hill, Connecticut. Attorney Strunk focuses on the defense of workers’ compensation matters. A graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Law, he was admitted to the Connecticut Bar in 1982.

Attorney Strunk is a member of the American Bar Association and the Mashantucket Pequot Bar Association. He is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association and serves on the executive committee of the Workers’ Compensation Section. He is currently the Committee’s Legislative Liaison. Attorney Strunk has argued successfully on numerous occasions before the State’s Supreme and Appellate Courts.

Attorney Strunk is certified by the Connecticut Bar Association as a specialist in Workers’ Compensation. He has an AV preeminent rating by Martindale Hubbell and has been named to the peer nominated Best Lawyers and New England Super Lawyers. Attorney Strunk is a fellow in the National College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers and is a contributing author to the continuing Connecticut Practice Series, “Workers’ Compensation Law.” (Thomason-West 2008)


2.0 CLE Credits: (CT: 2.0 General; NY: 2.0 AOP)