The defendants' specifically asked the Court of Appeals to adopt the Daubert standard as the law in Iowa. The court rejected this invitation, finding that the Iowa Supreme Court had previously declined to apply Daubert in Leaf v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 590 N.W.2d 525, 533 (Iowa 1999), and had recently "affirmed its commitment to a liberal view on the admissibility of expert testimony. . . ." in Ranes v. Adams Laboratories, 778 N.W.2d 677, 685-86 (Iowa 2010). The court noted that even if it was assumed that this was the type of case to which Daubert applied, general and specific causation had been established by claimant's expert. In a footnote, the court further indicated that the rules of evidence for workers' compensation claims were different that those in a general civil action.
Ultimately, the court relied on the time-honored principle that whether an injury has a direct causal connection with the employment is essentially in the domain of expert testimony, and that the commissioner is the one to make this decision. Finding that the commissioner's decision was supported by substantial evidence, the court affirmed the award of benefits.
It will be interesting to see whether further review of this case is sought by defendants. On its surface, this is not the type of case where Daubert would seem to assist defendants even if it was applied. The bona fides of the experts involved are such that defendants' experts certainly don't seem to prevail over those of the claimant's expert. In addition, claimant's expert opined based on various peer reviewed studies, while defendants' expert testified primarily based on testing of the plant conducted two years after claimant's injury. The implies, without directly stating so, that Daubert is particularly inappropriate in workers' compensation cases, which are generally not the "difficult scientific cases" to which Daubert applies. Based on the decisions in Leaf and Ranes, it appears unlikely the Supreme Court will want to revisit this issue in the workers' compensation context.