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Swanson v. A. v. Transportation, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 16, 2018

DAVID SWANSON, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
A. V. TRANSPORTATION, INC., and SPARTA INSURANCE, Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Stuart P. Werling, Judge.

         A truck driver challenges a decision by the workers' compensation commission that he failed to prove his knee injury arose out of and in the course of his employment. AFFIRMED.

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

          Edward J. Rose of Betty, Neuman & McMahon, P.L.C., Davenport, for appellees.

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

          TABOR, JUDGE

         Claimant David Swanson appeals the district court's affirmance of a determination by the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commission that he failed to prove his knee injury was related to his work as a truck driver. Swanson contends the commissioner wrongly discounted uncontested expert testimony that Swanson's injury resulted from an accident when he was "gassing up" his truck. Because the administrative record supports the district court's decision, we affirm.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         A.V. Transportation, Inc. (A.V.) hired Swanson as a semi-truck driver in 2008. In February 2013, Swanson reported an injury to his A.V. supervisor. Swanson wrote on the company's form that he hurt his knee as he climbed out of his truck's cabin to fuel up on A.V. property. Recounting the incident, Swanson said his right foot slipped on the ice-covered ground, he grabbed the truck's support rail, and he "did the splits." He felt pain in his right knee but thought it would subside so he did not immediately report the fall. When the pain didn't get better he reported the accident, estimating it occurred on February 14, but he later amended his report to allege the injury occurred on February 15. He eventually claimed the accident occurred on February 7.

         Swanson met with Dr. Mary Shook and Dr. Camila Frederick at Clinton Occupational Health at the direction of A.V. Based on Swanson's retelling of events, Dr. Shook diagnosed Swanson with a knee strain resulting from his work activities. Swanson continued treatment at Clinton Occupational Health and when his knee pain did not improve, Dr. Frederick recommended magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of Swanson's knee. The scan showed a tear in the knee's meniscus. Swanson met with an orthopedic specialist, Dr. John Hoffman. Dr. Hoffman surgically repaired Swanson's knee and treated lingering pain with cortisone shots before determining Swanson reached maximum medical improvement. After receiving treatment from Dr. Hoffman, Swanson sought out an independent medical examination with Dr. Robert Milas. Based on Swanson's account, Dr. Milas determined Swanson's knee injury resulted from work-related activities.

         In March 2014, Swanson filed a petition with the workers' compensation commission seeking arbitration and medical benefits for his injury. A.V. and its insurance carrier, Sparta, answered the petition by challenging whether Swanson's injury was connected to his employment. The deputy commissioner reviewed testimony from Swanson and two A.V. employees, as well as both parties' exhibits-including surveillance video showing Swanson get in and out of his truck without incident on the alleged date of injury. The deputy concluded Swanson failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that his injury "arose out of and in the course" of his employment.

         Swanson appealed to the commissioner. After a de novo review, the commissioner adopted the deputy's findings and agreed Swanson failed to show a causal connection between his work and his injury. Undeterred, Swanson sought review in the district court. The district court found substantial evidence in the record supporting the commissioner's conclusions. Swanson now appeals.

         II. Scope and Standards of Review

         Our review is governed by the Iowa Administrative Procedure Act, chapter 17A of the Iowa Code. See Iowa Code ยง ...


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