from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Karen A.
employee appeals the district court's decision affirming
the ruling of the workers' compensation commissioner
finding his request for benefits was untimely.
R. Rush and Christoph P. Rupprecht of Rush & Nicholson,
P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for appellant.
Timothy W. Wegman and Joseph M. Barron of Peddicord Wharton,
L.L.P., West Des Moines, for appellee.
Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.
Myers appeals the district court's decision affirming the
ruling of the workers' compensation commissioner finding
his request for benefits was untimely. We find there is
substantial evidence in the record to support the
commissioner's determination Myers did not file a
petition with the commissioner within two years after the
discovery date of his cumulative back injury. We affirm the
decision of the district court and the commissioner.
Background Facts & Proceedings
became employed by R.R. Donnelly & Sons Co. in 1984. He
was employed as a press operator until 2011, when he was
moved to packing and handling because he could no longer
perform the duties of a press operator. Myers developed back
pain and sought medical treatment for his condition beginning
in at least 1999. He had temporary work restrictions on and
off from 2003. Myers testified he knew by 2009 his work was
aggravating his back. Myers was unable to work for extended
periods of time and received both long-term and short-term
disability benefits from the employer. On November 20, 2012,
Myers received permanent restrictions of no lifting more than
forty pounds and no repetitive bending, lifting, and
twisting. He was terminated from his employment because the
employer could not accommodate his work restrictions.
April 2, 2013, Myers filed a claim for workers'
compensation benefits, claiming he had a cumulative back
injury. The employer asserted Myers's claim was untimely
under Iowa Code section 85.26(1) (2013), which requires a
claim to be "commenced within two years from the date of
the occurrence of the injury for which benefits are
administrative hearing was held on June 16, 2014. A deputy
workers' compensation commissioner determined Myers's
injury date was February 25, 2009, when Dr. Randy Shelerud
diagnosed Myers with "disabling mechanical back and
bilateral buttock pain, " and referred him for surgical
consultation. Myers was placed on work restrictions for six
months at that time. The deputy found the manifestation date
for his injury was March 3, 2011, when Dr. Jeffrey Nasstrom,
his family physician, noted Myers had been developing
increasing back pain and Myers stated his work was
intolerable. The deputy concluded Myers knew the nature,
seriousness, and probable compensable character of his injury
no later than March 3, 2011. Because Myers's claim was
filed more than two years after this date, the deputy
concluded the claim was untimely under section 85.26(1).
appealed to the workers' compensation commissioner. The
commissioner agreed Myers's injury date was February 25,
2009. The commissioner determined the applicable date under
the discovery rule was February 21, 2011, when Dr. Nasstrom
evaluated Myers, resulting in a letter stating,
"Unfortunately, he has been developing increasing back
pain with radicular symptoms. He notes it has been
increasingly intolerable to work at this time." The
commissioner also noted Myers had received extensive medical
treatment for his back from 2006 through February 2011 and he
had received substantial amounts of short-term disability
benefits in 2009. The commissioner concluded Myers's
claim was untimely and he was not entitled to workers'
filed a petition for judicial review. The district court
The record in this case supports that Myers has had issues
with his back since as early as 1999; has had extensive
medical treatment for his back; and has had numerous periods
off work and on short term disability due to his back
condition. There is substantial evidence in this record that
Myers knew or should have known the seriousness of his
condition at least by February 21, 2011. In addition, there
is substantial evidence to support the Commissioner's
conclusion that Myers should have known the compensable
nature of his injury by that date as well. It is clear from
the record that Myers's back condition was worsened by
his employment as evidenced by the restrictions placed on him
over the years as well as his own testimony that his employer
knew he was off because of his back "and they
[Donnelley] knew that my tasks at work aggravated my
back." The time period referenced in this question ...