from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Nancy S.
litigant appeals several rulings on the exclusion of
Anthony J. Bribriesco, Andrew W. Bribriesco, and William J.
Bribriesco of Bribriesco Law Firm P.LLC, Bettendorf, for
T. Bower and Frank B. Harty of Nyemaster Goode, P.C., Des
Moines, for appellees.
by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and McDonald, JJ.
plaintiff Christina Hyten appeals from an adverse judgment
entered against her following a jury trial on her claim she
was wrongfully discharged for seeking workers'
compensation benefits. On appeal, she challenges three
discretionary evidentiary rulings. She contends the district
court abused its discretion in excluding evidence concerning
the following: (1) the delay in receipt of workers'
compensation benefits; (2) the safety of her work assignment
following her date of injury; and (3) the company's
waiver of a notice defense in the underlying workers'
Company, L.L.C., is a subsidiary of HNI Corporation. Hyten
commenced work at HON's facility through a temporary
staffing agency in March 2013. HON hired her directly on July
1, 2013. Hyten worked at an oak laminate factory as a work
cell operator doing various assembly tasks in the flat pack
department. Hyten worked second shift from 3:00 p.m. until
11:00 p.m. On July 13, 2013, Hyten allegedly sustained a
carpal tunnel injury arising out of her employment. She
claims she reported the injury to her Production Team Leader,
Rodney Holliday, the same day. He directed her to complete a
"HON First Aid Form." Hyten testified she filled
out the form and submitted it. Hyten did not obtain the
signature of a supervisor as dictated by company policy.
Hyten testified no action was taken on her report.
testified she told others of her injury after the first aid
form was not addressed, but she admitted she did not escalate
her unaddressed report as required by company policy. Several
weeks after submitting the first aid form, Hyten raised the
issue again with Holliday. He recommended some stretches and
gave her a splint to wear. She testified she told Production
Team Leaders Jim Gibson and Brandon Mathis of the injury. She
testified Mathis told her she was "replaceable" if
she could not do the job. From the time Hyten filled out the
first aid form until January 2014, Hyten did not escalate her
report beyond these identified Production Team Leaders.
concerns regarding her injury were addressed in January 2014.
At that time, Hyten requested she be moved from second shift
to first shift for family reasons. Her request was granted.
Hyten then reported her prior injury to her new supervisor,
Chad Reich. Hyten filled out a first aid form and obtained
Reich's signature. At the same time, Reich issued Hyten a
"record of coaching" for not immediately notifying
him of the injury when she changed shifts. Hyten filed a
claim for workers' compensation benefits. She treated
with a physician at the end of the month. After several
medical appointments, she scheduled a surgery to be performed
in March. Hyten testified that, around this time, the factory
manager approached her in the parking lot and asked,
"When are you going to quit milking it and get back on
her employment, Hyten had attendance issues. The company had
a written attendance policy. The policy gave each employee
nine attendance credits on an annual basis commencing with
the date of employment with two "free passes"
granted at the beginning of each year. Each unexcused absence
counted as a credit. Each tardy or early leave of two hours
or more counted as a credit. Each tardy or early leave of
less than two hours counted as a half credit. The policy
provided the company would terminate employment when the
employee used all nine credits. Hyten did not and does not
dispute she used her free passes and nine credits between
July 1, 2013 to March 6, 2014. On March 7, the company's
Member and Community Relations Manager, a human resources
position, met with Hyten's Group Leader and decided to
terminate Hyten's employment for violation of the
attendance policy. Hyten's employment was terminated on
the same date.
filed this suit against HON and HNI in October 2014. She
claimed the companies terminated her employment in violation
of public policy for seeking workers' compensation
benefits. The matter was tried to a jury over the course of
six days. After six days of testimony, having ...