The court in Villafana v. Blackhawk Foundry, No. 11-1781 (Iowa App. June 27, 2012) found that the commissioner's conclusion that claimant's injury did not arise out of and in the course of employment was supported by substantial evidence. Claimant's condition (carpal tunnel and neck problems) was originally found work related by Dr. Frederick, but she later concluded that these conditions were not related to work, but were related to earlier injuries sustained by claimant. Dr. Milas, a neurosurgeon, indicated that he believed the injuries were related to work, although he noted that claimant was a poor historian.
At the hearing level, Dr. Frederick's opinions were credited over those of Dr. Milas because it was unclear what records Dr. Milas had reviewed in reaching his conclusions. The opinions of the deputy were affirmed without further comment. The COA initially addresses a question of whether claimant preserved error, as he did not point to any cases in support of his argument that the commissioner erred, as a matter of law, in failing to find that claimant's injuries arose out of his employment. Because claimant set forth general review principles, however, the court addresses the arguments and finds they are not waived.
The COA affirms the decision of the commissioner, based on the fact that Dr. Frederick discussed how she reached her conclusions, and what evidence she considered, while Dr. Milas did not. The court noted that expert testimony was essential to show a causal connection and found that the commissioner's findings were supported by substantial evidence. This was the case for both the carpal tunnel and neck problems.