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Lynn v. Pella Corporation

Court of Appeal of Iowa

July 24, 2013

ROBIN LYNN, Petitioner-Appellee,
v.
PELLA CORPORATION, Respondent-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, James Richardson, Judge.

Pella Corporation appeals from the judicial review order reversing the denial of Robin Lynn's workers' compensation petition and remanding to the agency.

David L. Jenkins of Bradshaw, Fowler, Proctor & Fairgrave, P.C., Des Moines for appellant.

Jacob J. Peters of Peters Law Firm, PC, Council Bluffs, for appellee.

Heard by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

BOWER, J.

After Robin Lynn's worker's compensation petition was denied, she petitioned the district court for judicial review. The court found the agency erroneously applied the law regarding requests for admission and remanded the case for further proceedings. The question on appeal is whether the district court properly interpreted Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.510 when it concluded Pella Corporation's objection to the requests as untimely, without further admitting or denying the requests, was deemed an admission under the rule.

We find rule 1.510 only requires an objecting party to state its reason for objection to a request for admission and nothing more. The district court erred in finding Pella Corporation was also required to admit or deny the requests. Accordingly, we reverse the order of the district court reversing the agency decision and remanding for further proceedings.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Robin Lynn (Lynn) was an employee of Pella Corporation from November 1999 until June 13, 2007. Lynn suffered a work-related injury to her lower back in December 2000, which resulted in a thirty-five percent industrial disability award. She returned to work with restrictions.

Lynn alleges she suffered an injury to her neck in May of 2007 after being moved to the casement area of an assembly line, a position more physically demanding than the prior position. Lynn complained to her employer about pain she felt in her neck, upper back, and both shoulders. Lynn was then returned to her former position. After an investigation, Pella Corporation determined Lynn intentionally slowed down the assembly line while working in the casement area. As a result, she was suspended on June 11, 2007, and terminated on June 13, 2007.

On April 27, 2009, Lynn filed a workers' compensation petition. She served requests for admission on Pella Corporation on February 16, 2010. Included were requests that Pella Corporation admit Lynn suffered an injury arising out of and in the course of her employment during the week of May 21, 2007. Pella Corporation filed a response and objection to the requests for admission, which stated:

Pella objects to Claimant's Requests for Admission, and each of the twelve individual requests stated therein, for the reason that the Requests for Admission was served less than sixty days before the hearing scheduled on April 7, 2010, and is thus untimely served under ...

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