Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Merrick v. Crestridge, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 21, 2018

VELENE K. MERRICK, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CRESTRIDGE, INC. and IOWA LONG TERM CARE RISK MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION, Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Henry W. Latham II, Judge.

         Claimant seeks judicial review of the workers' compensation commissioner's decision denying her benefits.

          Matthew A. Leddin of Soper Leddin Law Firm, P.C., Davenport, for appellant.

          Matthew R. Phillips of Bradshaw, Fowler, Proctor & Fairgrave, Des Moines, for appellees.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

          McDONALD, JUDGE

         Claimant Velene Merrick seeks judicial review of the workers' compensation commissioner's decision denying her claim for industrial disability benefits. The workers' compensation commissioner concluded Merrick established she suffered a work-related injury to her shoulder but did not meet her burden of proof in establishing the shoulder injury resulted in permanent disability. The district court affirmed the agency's ruling, and Merrick timely filed this appeal. On appeal, Merrick contends the agency's decision is not supported by substantial evidence and the agency misapplied the law to the facts.

         Iowa Code chapter 17A governs our review of the workers' compensation commissioner's decision. See Iowa Code § 86.26 (2017); Mike Brooks, Inc. v. House, 843 N.W.2d 885, 888 (Iowa 2014). Judicial review of final agency action is limited. See Iowa Code § 17A.19(10). "The administrative process presupposes judgment calls are to be left to the agency. Nearly all disputes are won or lost there." Sellers v. Emp't Appeal Bd., 531 N.W.2d 645, 646 (Iowa Ct. App. 1995) (citation omitted). "When we review findings of the industrial commissioner, those findings carry the effect of a jury verdict. We will reverse an agency's findings only if, after reviewing the record as a whole, we determine that substantial evidence does not support them." Terwilliger v. Snap-On Tools Corp., 529 N.W.2d 267, 271 (Iowa 1995). In determining whether the agency's decision is supported by substantial evidence, the ultimate question is not whether the evidence supports a different finding but whether it supports the findings the commissioner actually made. See id. "Further, the commissioner's application of law to the facts as found by the commissioner will not be reversed unless it is irrational, illogical, or wholly unjustifiable." Neal v. Annett Holdings, Inc., 814 N.W.2d 512, 518 (Iowa 2012). Rarely will the judiciary reverse final agency action on the ground the decision is not supported by substantial evidence or involves an irrational application of the law to the facts. See McComas-Lacina Constr. v. Drake, No. 15-0922, 2016 WL 2744948, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. May 11, 2016) ("A case reversing final agency action on the ground the agency's action is unsupported by substantial evidence or is irrational, illogical, or wholly unjustifiable is . . . an urban legend, rumored to exist but never confirmed.").

         The agency record shows Merrick commenced employment with Crestridge, Inc., a retirement home, as a CNA in April 2011. Several months later, Merrick suffered an injury to her right shoulder when a patient grabbed or struck her arm. The record reflects Merrick had suffered a work-related injury to her right shoulder with a prior employer, but she had recovered from the injury before her employment with Crestridge. With respect to the injury at issue, Merrick claimed she felt a pop and experienced right shoulder pain. The same day, she treated with Dr. Bybee, a general practitioner, who recommended limited activity, pain management, and a follow-up. An x-ray was negative for fracture or dislocation. After several follow-up visits, Merrick was referred to Dr. Hussain, an orthopedic specialist.

         Merrick began treating with Dr. Hussain in August 2011. Dr. Hussain's initial impression was Merrick "likely had an injury that has caused capsulitis." He ordered light-duty work, recommended physical therapy, and gave Merrick an injection in her shoulder to reduce pain and inflammation. At a follow-up appointment in September 2011, Dr. Hussain noted Merrick's underlying problem was "multidirectional instability that probably got flared." He continued to recommend light-duty work, including lifting restrictions, and physical therapy. Dr. Hussain's records from a November appointment provide:

She reports she is doing really well after injection therapy and physical therapy course. She is getting back pain-free range of motion and has regained motion quite significantly. She has some mild discomfort in her biceps tendon but is overall improving accordingly . . . She would like to go back to work in terms of full duty. . . . .
Assessment: Resolving shoulder discomfort with marked
improvement since last time I saw her.
Plan: I am going to have her, per the recommendation of the therapist, do a home exercise program. We will release her to full duty with no restrictions in a month, but in the meanwhile I am going to limit her to lifting less than 50 pounds in order to help progress her back into normal activities to prevent ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.