Neifert, Byrne & Ozga, P.C.

Welcome to the blog for Neifert, Byrne & Ozga, P.C., devoted to developments in the field of workers' compensation in the State of Iowa. We hope the blog provides helpful information to users, including updates of Iowa Supreme Court and Court of Appeals cases of interest to claimants and workers' compensation practitioners.

Neifert, Byrne & Ozga represents only injured workers in workers' compensation claims in Iowa. This blog is meant to provide accurate and updated information on state of workers' compensation claims in our state. Should you have further questions, please contact us at Neifert, Byrne & Ozga, P.C, 1441 29th Street, Suite 111, West Des Moines, IA 50266. Tel. 888-926-2117 (toll free). Visit us on the web at www.nbolawfirm.com or www.iowa-workers-comp.com.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Denial of Benefits Affirmed Premised on Substantial Evidence

Dillavou v. Plastic Injection Molders, Inc., No. 13-1359 (Iowa App. Aug. 27, 2014) is an affirmance of the commissioner's decision denying claimant benefits.  The case arose out of a closely held work environment in which claimant was the wife of a co-owner of the business, which was also co-owned by her brother.  The injury occurred when claimant's brother struck his shoulder against hers, causing her to fall to the ground, resulting in injuries to her knee and shoulder.  Claimant and her husband contacted the county attorney about this incident, insisted on bringing charges (of which the brother was acquitted) and bringing a civil action against the brother for an intentional tort.

A workers' compensation case was filed, and defendants argued that under section 85.16(3), the actions of the brother were a willful act of a third party directed against the employee for reasons personal to such employee.  As the court notes, this section of the Code is an absolute defense against a workers' compensation claim.   At the workers' compensation hearing, claimant argued that her brother had unintentionally knocked her down.  The deputy found that there were enough inferences in the record that claimant's brother acted intentionally and dismissed the case.  The commissioner affirmed the findings.

The court of appeals finds that there was substantial evidence the claimant's brother acted willfully when he bumped into her.  The family background and acrimony among the parties "pervades the factual circumstances surrounding the incident and gives rise to a strong inference of Greg's motive to intentionally bump into [claimant]."  The contact was not related to or within the scope of claimant's employment, according to the court.  The court ultimately found that even if there was credible evidence that the incident was accidental or work-related, the fact that two inconsistent conclusions may be drawn from the same evidence did not prevent the agency's decision from being supported by substantial evidence.  The court concluded that the facts were sufficient to persuade a reasonable person that Greg acted intentionally and for reasons personal to claimant, and affirmed the decision of the agency.