In Harper v. Lensing, Ltd., No. 17-1615 (Iowa App. July 18, 2018), the Court of Appeals affirmed the industrial disability findings of the agency in light of claimant's argument that the agency had not demonstrated a "logical pathway" outlining the commissioner's industrial disability determination.
Claimant suffered an automobile accident while at work, as a result of which her duties were modified. She later had a fall at home, was placed on light duty and ultimately had her restrictions lifted. Claimant then developed pneumonia and missed substantial amounts of work. The employer terminated her employment.
Claimant was paid 17 weeks of benefits before hearing. The deputy and commissioner concluded that claimant was not entitled to permanency above the payment of that 17 weeks of benefits. The commissioner relied on the opinions of Dr. Jones and Dr. Broghammer. Claimant sought rehearing and the commissioner again found that he relied on the opinions of Dr. Jones and Dr. Broghammer. The district court affirmed and found that it was possible to deduce how the agency had reached its conclusion.
The Court of Appeals finds that the agency has a duty to state the evidence relied upon and to detail the reasons for the conclusions reached, and must sufficiently detail his decision to show the path taken through conflicting evidence. Citing IBP, Inc. v. Al-Gharib, 604 N.W.2d 621, 633 (Iowa 2000). The court also notes that the agency decision is sufficient if it is possible to work backward from the agency's written decision to deduce the agency's legal conclusions, again citing Al-Gharib. In this case, the court finds that the commissioner specifically relied on the reports of Dr. Jones and Dr. Broghammer, which detailed why claimant's industrial disability was minimal. This was sufficient for the court and the decision of the agency was upheld.
In a footnote in the decision, the court notes that other issues were presented but were not considered by the court because claimant had provided "very few, and on some issues no, citations to legal authority to support her position on appeal." The court found that to reach those issues would require the court to assume a partisan role and undertake the appellant's research and advocacy. The court refused to do this and deemed these issues waived. This footnote should serve as a warning for future appellate advocacy to make sure that legal citations are made for each contention made in the brief. If this is not done, those issues may be deemed waived by the court.