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.

Gumm v. Easter Seal Society of Iowa, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 15, 2019

ANITA GUMM, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
EASTER SEAL SOCIETY OF IOWA, INC., AMERICAN COMPENSATION INS. CO., and SFM INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Paul Scott, Judge.

         Anita Gumm appeals the denial of her petition for judicial review upholding the Workers' Compensation Commissioner's denial of her petition asserting she sustained a cumulative workplace injury. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

          Joseph S. Powell of Thomas J. Reilly Law Firm, P.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Lee P. Hook and Tyler S. Smith of Peddicord Wharton, LLP, West Des Moines, for appellees Easter Seal Society of Iowa, Inc. and SFM Insurance Company.

          Thomas D. Wolle of Simmons Perrine Moyer Bergman PLC, Cedar Rapids, for appellee American Compensation Ins. Co.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., Mullins, J., and Danilson, S.J. [*]

          DOYLE, PRESIDING JUDGE

         Anita Gumm appeals the denial of her petition for judicial review upholding the Workers' Compensation Commissioner's denial of her petition asserting she sustained a cumulative workplace injury. Upon our review, we reverse the district court's ruling and remand to the commissioner for further proceedings.

         I. Background and Standard of Review.

         In 2008, Anita Gumm slipped while working and fractured her right ankle. In 2009, it was determined Gumm was at maximum medical improvement for her injury, and she was assigned a 17% extremity impairment rating for the ankle fracture. She received permanent partial disability benefits and returned to full work activity without restrictions.

         In 2014, Gumm filed a workers' compensation petition claiming she sustained a cumulative injury after she returned to work subsequent to the 2008 fracture. She alleged injury dates of March 6, 2012, May 16, 2013, and/or January 15, 2014. Ultimately, the agency found that Gumm failed to establish she sustained a cumulative injury following the 2008 fracture. A deputy commissioner found:

Claimant has not shown she suffered a "distinct and discreet" disability attributable to the post-fracture work activities. Her continued work activities may have played a role in aggravating the right ankle condition and resulted in the need for further treatment, however, by the standard of the Ellingson [v. Fleetguard, Inc., 599 N.W.2d 440 (Iowa 1999), ] case, this form of aggravation is insufficient. Claimant suffered a significant fracture-dislocation and developed the inevitable posttraumatic arthritis that would be expected from such an injury. As a result of the arthritic condition, claimant required arthroscopy, arthrodesis, and more conservative treatment of the right ankle. These procedures represent sequelae of the original October 28, 2008 injury, not distinct cumulative injuries. Claimant also developed bilateral knee and back complaints as a result of an altered gait following arthrodesis; these complaints also reflect sequelae of the original October 28, 2008 injury and are not distinct cumulative injuries.

         The decision was affirmed by the agency and a petition for judicial review followed. The district court upheld the agency's determination and denied Gumm's petition. Gumm now appeals, renewing her arguments asserted before the district court.

         Our analysis is shaped largely by the deference we are statutorily obligated to afford the agency. See Mike Brooks, Inc. v. House, 843 N.W.2d 885, 888-89 (Iowa 2014). In judicial review proceedings, the district court acts in an appellate capacity, reviewing the commissioner's decision to correct legal error. See id. at 888. On appeal, we apply the standards of Iowa Code chapter 17A (2017) to decide if we reach the same conclusion as the district court. See id. at 889. The commissioner is vested with the authority to apply the law to the facts. See DrakeUniv. v. Davis, 769 N.W.2d 176, 183 (Iowa 2009). Because whether the commissioner misapplied the cumulative-injury doctrine to Gumm's situation depends on the application of law to facts, we will not disturb the decision unless it is "irrational, illogical, or wholly unjustifiable." See Neal v. Annett Holdings, Inc., 814 N.W.2d 512, 526 (Iowa 2012); see also Iowa Code § 17A.19(10)(i), (m). "A decision is 'irrational' when it is 'not governed by or according to reason.' A decision is ...


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.