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.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Court of Appeals Affirms Decision Finding that the Filing of Claimant's Petition was Untimely

In Myers v. R.R. Donnelly & Sons, No. 17-0306 (Iowa App. Sept. 13, 2017), the Court of Appeals upheld a decision of the agency concluding that claimant's petition was untimely and was not saved by the discovery rule.  

Claimant was employed by Donnelly as a press operator until 2011, when he was moved to another position because he could not longer perform the duties of a press operator as a result of back problems.  The back problems had begun in 1999.  The agency concluded that claimant knew his back problems were related to his work by 2009.  On November 2012, claimant received permanent restrictions of no lifting of more than 40 pounds and was terminated because the employer could not accommodate his work restrictions.  Claimant filed a petition on April 2, 2013.

The agency concluded that claimant's injury date was 2/25/09, when claimant's doctor diagnosed him with disabling mechanical back pain and referred him to his surgeon.  The deputy found that the manifestation date was 3/3/11.  Because Myers filed his petition more than two years after this date, the claim was dismissed.   The dismissal was affirmed by the commissioner and the district court.

The court notes that the manifestation date for the injury is the date on which both the fact of the injury and the causal relationship of the injury to the claimant's employment would have become plainly apparent to a reasonable person.  The court went on to note that under Herrera, in a cumulative injury case, the statute of limitations will not begin to run until the employee also knows that the physical condition is serious enough to have a permanent adverse impact on the claimant's employment or employability.

Claimant argued that he knew the nature of his injury, but not the seriousness of the injury on 2/21/11.  He also argued that he did not know the probable compensable character until 9/14/12.  The court cited hearing testimony indicating that claimant knew the work related nature of his injury in 2009-2011.  Ultimately, the court concluded that claimant knew of the compensable character by 2/21/11, under the substantial evidence rule.  

Note that the last injurious exposure appears to have been in 2011, as that was the time that claimant was switched from his role as a press operator.  The court does not specifically address the fact that claimant did not have permanent restrictions until November of 2012.  

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