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.

Harper v. Lensing, Ltd

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 18, 2018

ANGELA HARPER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
LENSING, LTD, d/b/a LENSING FUNERAL HOME and UNITED FIRE & CASUALTY COMPANY, Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Eliza J. Ovrom, Judge.

         Angela Harper appeals a district court ruling on her petition for judicial review of a determination of the workers' compensation commissioner.

          Matthew D. Dake of Wertz, Dake & Anderson, P.C. Cedar Rapids, for appellant.

          Cory D. Abbas of Patterson Law Firm L.L.P., Des Moines, for appellees.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Tabor, J., and Scott, S.J. [*]

          SCOTT, SENIOR JUDGE.

         Angela Harper appeals a district court ruling on her petition for judicial review of a determination of the workers' compensation commissioner. She contends the district court erred in failing to remand the case to the commissioner to provide a "logical pathway" outlining the commissioner's industrial-disability determination.[1]

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Harper was employed by Lensing Funeral Home (Lensing) as a funeral home director. She was involved in a motor-vehicle collision on March 23, 2012, while working in the course of her employment with Lensing. Harper was subsequently diagnosed with various conditions by a number of medical professionals.[2] She returned to work in June, part time, generally working four to six hours per day. Harper returned to working full, eight-hour days in October. As a result of one of the medications Harper was taking at this time, she was unable to work the on-call night shift. Although Harper's general duties at Lensing were modified, she worked forty or more hours per week.

         Harper continued to work for Lensing on a full-time basis until September 2013, when she suffered a fall while carrying laundry down the stairs in her home. After this fall, Harper did not return to work until October 6, upon which she was placed on light duty. Her restrictions were lifted on November 18. In early 2014, Harper was hospitalized for pneumonia, which was unrelated to the original work injury, and missed more work. Specifically, between late January and early March, Harper missed twenty-four of twenty-seven work days. After recovering, Harper requested reduced hours upon her return to work. Lensing ultimately decided to terminate Harper's employment, citing the fact that Harper had exhausted all of her leave and Lensing's desire to have a full-time employee in her position.

         In March 2014, Harper filed a petition with the workers' compensation commissioner alleging she was owed additional benefits. The parties subsequently stipulated the March 2012 injury was a cause of a permanent partial industrial disability, but did not agree as to the amount of benefits Harper was entitled to as a result thereof. Prior to hearing, Lensing voluntarily paid Harper roughly seventeen weeks of permanent-disability benefits.[3] Lensing disputed Harper's entitlement to any benefits beyond that already voluntarily paid, arguing Harper's industrial disability was minimal.

         Following an arbitration hearing, the deputy commissioner noted Harper's impairment to the body as a whole amounted to an industrial disability, but concluded Harper was not entitled to any additional permanent-disability benefits beyond what Lensing previously paid. Harper appealed this ruling to the commissioner, who affirmed "the deputy commissioner's finding that [Harper] is not entitled to any additional permanent disability benefits beyond what was voluntarily paid by [Lensing] prior to the arbitration hearing." In his ruling, the commissioner noted his agreement with the deputy commissioner that the causation opinions of two experts, Dr. Robert Jones and Dr. Robert Broghammer were entitled to greater weight than the causation opinions of other medical providers who determined the March 2012 injury caused a more substantial permanent disability. Harper moved for a rehearing, requesting, among other things, a more thorough evaluation of the industrial-disability determination in light of the parties' stipulation Harper sustained a permanent disability. In his rehearing decision, the commissioner clarified that the stipulation that Harper suffered a permanent disability was accepted, but noted Harper's "industrial disability, or loss of earning capacity, did not exceed permanent partial disability benefits already paid." The commissioner also repeated his reliance on the medical opinions of Dr. Jones and Dr. Broghammer.

         Harper filed a petition for judicial review. Following a hearing, the district court affirmed the decision of the commissioner and denied Harper's petition, concluding "the agency's decision is sufficient as it is possible to deduce the agency's legal conclusions and findings that [Harper] suffered minimal industrial disability and was not entitled to benefits in addition to those already paid." The court denied Harper's subsequent motion to enlarge or amend, and this appeal followed.

         II. ...


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.