from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County,
Kathleen A. Kilnoski, Judge.
Callahan appeals the district court's ruling on judicial
review upholding the decision of the workers'
compensation commissioner denying her claim for benefits.
L. Pattermann and Eric C. Hansen of Law Offices of Gallner
& Pattermann, P.C., Council Bluffs, for appellant.
Matthew D. Hammes and Amy M. Locher of Locher Pavelka Dostal
Braddy & Hammes, L.L.C., for appellee.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
DANILSON, CHIEF JUDGE.
Callahan appeals the district court's ruling upholding
the workers' compensation commissioner's finding
Callahan did not give timely notice of her work-related
Iowa Administrative Procedure Act requires the district court
to review agency action when a party invokes the district
court's jurisdiction. Iowa Code § 17A.19(10) (2014).
This court reviews the district court decision to determine
whether we would reach the same result as the district court.
Gits Mfg. Co. v. Frank, 855 N.W.2d 195, 197 (Iowa
Casino (Horseshoe) former employee Sandra Callahan filed a
petition for judicial review of the workers' compensation
commissioner's decision. The commissioner determined the
employer did not have actual knowledge before August 13,
2012, that Callahan's back problems, which manifested
October 10, 2011, were work related. The commissioner
concluded that there was "no credible evidence in the
record" to support the deputy's finding to the
contrary, and because Callahan admittedly did not make her
report of injury to Horseshoe until August 13, 2012, well
beyond the ninety-day limitation required under Iowa Code
section 85.23,  Callahan's claim was time barred.
filed a petition for judicial review, contending the
commissioner misplaced the burden of proof of actual notice
on Callahan; the commissioner's finding was not supported
by substantial evidence; and the commissioner's
application of law to facts was illogical, irrational, or
wholly unjustifiable. After a hearing, the district court
upheld the commissioner's ruling, and Callahan appeals.
commissioner, as trier of fact, found Callahan's
cumulative injury manifested on October 10, 2011, and
Callahan gave formal notice to her employer that her injury
was work-related on August 13, 2012. A deputy commissioner
had ruled that the employer failed to carry its burden it did
not have actual notice Callahan's injury was
work related in November or December 2011. With respect to
the employer's actual notice, the commissioner wrote:
While it clearly appears the employer was aware for quite
some time before August 2012, that claimant had a low back
condition, I do not agree with the finding that the employer
had actual knowledge before August 13, 2012, that the
condition was work related. There simply is no credible
evidence in the record to support such a finding.
[Callahan's] testimony regarding actual notice is
extremely vague and flimsy and it directly contradicts her
deposition testimony. Even if [Callahan's] testimony at
hearing could be believed, the deposition testimony of
[employer representative] Rod Jobman clearly provides a basis
for concluding that the employer did not have actual
knowledge of the causation of Ms. Callahan's condition at
any time before Ms. Callahan reported the injury on August
commissioner thus concluded Callahan's claim for
permanent partial disability benefits was barred by the
notice provision of Iowa Code section 85.23.
Making a determination as to whether evidence
"trumps" other evidence or whether one piece of
evidence is "qualitatively weaker" than another
piece of evidence is not an assessment for the district court
or the court of appeals to make when it conducts a
substantial evidence review of an agency decision. It is the
commissioner's duty as the trier of fact to determine the
credibility of the witnesses, weigh the evidence, and decide
the facts in issue. The reviewing court only determines