from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, William P.
claimant appeals from the district court's judgment
affirming the commissioner's determination the
employee's stipulated work injury did not cause her
ongoing disability and symptoms after a specific date.
Nicholas W. Platt of Platt Law Firm, P.C., Urbandale, for
M. Smith of Scheldrup Blades Schrock Smith P.C., West Des
Moines, for appellees.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Tabor,
Bahic appeals from the district court's judgment
affirming the commissioner's determination that
Bahic's stipulated work injury did not cause her ongoing
disability and symptoms after the date of February 27, 2014.
On appeal, Bahic claims the district court erred in its
determination that substantial evidence supports the
commissioner's ruling. Additionally, she claims the court
was wrong to conclude the commissioner's reversal of the
deputy's causation ruling was not irrational, illogical,
or wholly unjustifiable.
Background Facts and Concluions.
was born in 1959 in Bosnia. There, she completed her
education through the eighth grade. She later lived in
Germany with her family and worked outside of the home
cleaning offices a few hours each week. After coming to the
United States, Bahic began working in January 2001 for the
employer, Mercy Medical Center-which was doing business as a
residential care facility under the name Bishop Drumm.
Through the employer, she took approximately two semesters of
classes in English as a second language. She testified she
was able to communicate verbally in English at work but was
unable to write well in English. Bahic utilized an
interpreter for her medical appointments as well as
throughout the legal process.
2013, Bahic was working full-time as a prep cook. As part of
her job requirements, Bahic would prepare food, load food and
drink onto a cart, and then deliver those items to people
within the facility. When loaded, the cart held the supplies
for approximately 160 people. According to Mercy's
description of the position of prep cook, the work required
"constant" standing, lifting, and walking;
"frequent" crouching, stooping, pulling, and
pushing; and "occasional" climbing, kneeling, and
lifting. Additionally, the "physical demand
requirements" state, in part, "Heavy work: Exerting
up to 65 pounds push/pull force occasionally, lifting up to
50 lbs. occasionally, lifting up to 40 lbs. frequently."
February 11, 2013, Bahic suffered an injury at work when
pushing a full cart to her first stop of the day. Bahic had
to lift the back of the cart and twist it in order to
maneuver around a corner. When she did so, she felt a sharp
stabbing pain in her lower back. Bahic reported the injury to
a coworker on the day it occurred and a supervisor the next
day. She continued to perform her job until approximately two
months later, when a supervisor noticed Bahic was unable to
put her weight on one foot and was limping. The employer then
arranged for Bahic to be seen by a medical professional at
Mercy Clinics; Bahic reported experiencing ongoing back pain
radiating down her right leg. She was given work restrictions
and began working in a less physically-demanding position in
the laundry room.
October 2013, Mercy terminated Bahic's employment. The
letter informed Bahic her termination did "not change
[her] ability to receive Workman's Compensation benefits
and treatment, if still under restrictions or
treatment"- which she was. Additionally, she was advised
she was eligible for rehire "if you are released to
return to work either without restrictions or to a position
that meets your current restrictions."
continued to treat with a number of medical providers.
employer's request, Bahic saw Dr. David Boarini in
February 2014 for an independent medical examination. In the
resulting letter, sent February 27, 2014, Dr. Boarini opined:
Upon examination, this is a normally developed woman. The
examination was essentially impossible because of obvious
pain exaggeration and symptom magnification. Testing was
inconsistent, breakaway and clearly non physiologic. Straight
leg raising was impossible to evaluate, once again because of
massive symptom exaggeration. The patient complained of
numbness in the entire right leg which was non physiologic.
She split the midline to tuning fork testing which is a clear
sign of malingering. Reflexes were symmetric and physiologic.
I reviewed the patient's MRI scan and she has some
degenerative changes mainly at L4-L5 with a small disc ...