dence or procedure, but shall make inquiry, through oral testimony, deposition testimony or written and printed records, in a manner that is best calculated to ascertain the substantial rights of the parties and carry out the provisions and intent of this chapter. . . .’’
One of the fundamental purposes of the commission- er’s expansive evidentiary reach is to encourage full disclosure and cooperation among the parties during the pendency of a claim. Dixon v. United Illuminating Co., 1996 CRB-4-94-3 (August 4, 1995), aff’d, 57 Conn. App. 51, 748 A.2d 300, cert. denied, 253 Conn. 908, 753 A.2d 940 (2000). ‘‘[A] commissioner must always protect the substantial rights of the parties [which] include the right of the employer . . . independently to examine the claimant, to notice his deposition, and to insist on hearing his personal testimony at a formal hearing. . . . Protecting such substantial rights is part and parcel of ensuring that each party in a compensation proceeding receives a fair hearing. Workers’ compensation hearings must be conducted in a fundamentally fair manner so as not to violate the rules of due process. . . . A funda- mental principle of due process is that each party has the right to receive notice of a hearing, and the opportu- nity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner. . . . Each party has the right to produce rele- vant evidence and to offer rebuttal evidence.’’ (Citations omitted; emphasis added; internal quotation marks omitted.) Bailey v. State, 65 Conn. App. 592, 604, 783 A.2d 491 (2001). Thus, the specific directive concerning the procedure for obtaining mental or physical examina- tions by physicians contained in § 31-294f does not detract from a commissioner’s authority to act pursuant to the more general provisions that may render such information discoverable.
Nonetheless, litigants are not without protection against unnecessarily onerous application of the discov- ery rules. As a general proposition, requiring the plain- tiff to submit to extensive vocational assessment procedures might well be unduly burdensome.6 Here, however, to establish her unemployability, the plaintiff retained a nonphysician vocational rehabilitation expert who was prepared to testify that examination and testing established the plaintiff’s present lack of capacity to perform in the workforce. The plaintiff thereby overtly made vocational rehabilitation assess- ment procedures material and necessary for the defen- dants for the purpose of rebuttal. The opportunity to present a competing assessment of the plaintiff’s voca- tional abilities by a similarly qualified expert thus became imperative, given the goal underlying our dis- covery rules of ensuring that both the plaintiff and the defendant receive a fair trial. Under those circum- stances, it cannot be said that the commissioner abused his discretion in finding that the need for the discovery outweighed the burden on the protesting party and, as a result, in compelling the discovery. Therefore, the