NWCDN Members regularly post articles and summary judgements in workers’ compensations law in your state.
Select a state from the dropdown menu below to scroll through the state specific archives for updates and opinions on various workers’ compensation laws in your state.
Contact information for NWCDN members is also located on the state specific links in the event you have additional questions or your company is seeking a workers’ compensation lawyer in your state.
Brenda Hernandez f/k/a Brenda Flores v. Osceola Foods, Court of Appeals of Iowa, No. 3-269/12-1658
The Claimant was employed at Osceola Foods from January 2003 to April 2008. On May 7, 2004 she injured her back while at work. A settlement agreement was entered into by the parties on May 22, 2006. She was awarded permanent partial disability for a fifteen percent loss of earning capacity. At the time she had a permanent thirty pound lifting restriction.
She continued working for the employer for almost two years after the settlement, at which point, she was terminated dishonesty as she had improperly filled out an employment application for her husband and intentionally misrepresented his employment history. The next day, the Claimant went to a temp staffing agency and filled out an application for Farley’s and Sathers Candy Company, acknowledging she was able to perform all duties as set forth in the job description. This included lifting up to fifty pounds. She was hired through the agency and eventually hired permanently by Farley’s on September 15, 2008. On January 9, 2009, Farley’s learned of her lifting restriction and terminated the claimant’s employment for misrepresenting her ability to do the job.
Following this, she filed a review-reopening petition based upon an allegedly greater loss of earning capacity. The deputy commissioner found that the Claimant did have a change in actual earning but it was due to her dishonest conduct resulting in the loss of her job rather than the work injury. This finding was affirmed by both the commissioner and the district court. The Claimant then appealed to the Court of Appeals.
On appeal, the Court stated the correct standard of review was for errors at law, but also noted that if substantial evidence supported the factual findings of the commissioner these would be upheld. The Court went on to state that while the Claimant attempted to frame the issue as an error at law, the Court agreed with the district court that the “crux of her argument is whether she proved by a preponderance of the evidence there has been a compensable change in her economic circumstances.” The review was thus limited to whether the conclusion reached by the agency was supported substantial evidence.
The Court went on to find that the Claimant’s initial job loss was due to her dishonesty rather than any physical impairment. Her subsequent job loss at Farley’s was also found to be due to her dishonesty rather than any lifting restriction she had. She had apparently been told by Farley’s that if she had been honest about her restriction, she would not have been offered the job. The Court found however that the agency was correct in determining that any loss of access to the labor market she now has is no different than the loss of access she had when the agreement for settlement was approved. The Court ultimately found that no facts about the Claimant’s employability attributable to her injury have changed since her settlement. Substantial evidence supported the findings of the agency and the Court affirmed the decision.
Call Mark Bosscher or Lee Hook with any questions @ 515-243-2100. We’d be happy to help, whether it be a quick or a complex issue!