A-TEC RECYCLING, INC. and EMCASCO INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
CHARLES E. WOOD, Defendant-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Sarah Crane,
employer and its workers' compensation carrier appeal
from the district court ruling on judicial review affirming
the agency's award of permanent partial disability
benefits to an employee. AFFIRMED.
Brian Scieszinski of Bradshaw, Fowler, Proctor &
Fairgrave, P.C., Des Moines, for appellant.
Nicholas G. Pothitakis of Pothitakis Law Firm, PC,
Burlington, for appellee.
Considered by Mullins, P.J., Bower, J., and Carr, S.J.
Recycling, Inc. (A-Tec) and its workers' compensation
carrier, Emcasco Insurance Company (EMC), appeal from the
judicial review ruling affirming the workers'
compensation commissioner's award of permanent partial
disability benefits to Charles Wood. Because this appeal
involves agency action, we apply the standards in Iowa Code
section 17A.19(10) (2018) to determine whether we reach the
same result as the district court. See Lowe's Home
Ctrs., LLC v. Iowa Dep't of Revenue, 921
N.W.2d 38, 45 (Iowa 2018). In doing so, we recognize the
agency's findings of fact
have the effect of a jury verdict. We may reverse the
commissioner's findings of fact only if they are
unsupported by substantial evidence in the record made before
the agency when the record is viewed as a whole. Evidence is
substantial if a reasonable mind would find it adequate to
reach the same conclusion. An agency's decision does not
lack substantial evidence because inconsistent conclusions
may be drawn from the same evidence.
Evenson v. Winnebago Indus., Inc., 881 N.W.2d 360,
366 (Iowa 2016) (citation omitted).
record shows that Wood was working at A-Tec when he slipped
and fell from the back of a truck and landed on his right
side. First, Wood only experienced significant bruising on
his right side, but his condition worsened over time. When he
sought medical treatment eighteen days later, Wood was
diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, pneumonia, and pleural
parties agree that Wood sustained a work injury. They
disagree on the extent of the injury-namely, whether the work
injury caused a permanent impairment. A deputy workers'
compensation commissioner determined that the work injury is
a cause of permanent impairment to Wood's cardiac system
in the form of atrial fibrillation and assigned Woods a
ten-percent industrial disability. The workers'
compensation commissioner affirmed on appeal.
and EMC petitioned for judicial review of the
commissioner's decision. The district court held that
substantial evidence supported the commissioner's
determination that Woods sustained a ten-percent industrial
disability because of his work injury. After also concluding
that the determination was not arbitrary, unreasonable,
irrational, or illogical, the court affirmed. On appeal,
A-Tec and EMC challenge the commissioner's determination
that Wood's work injury caused permanent impairment.
reverse the agency when it bases its action on "a
determination of fact clearly vested by a provision of law in
the discretion of the agency that is not supported by
substantial evidence in the record before the court when that
record is viewed as a whole." Iowa Code §
17A.19(10)(f). Substantial evidence is "the quantity and
quality of evidence that would be deemed sufficient by a
neutral, detached, and reasonable person, to establish the
fact at issue when the consequences resulting from the
establishment of that fact are understood to be serious and
of great importance." Id. §
17A.19(10)(f)(1). That different conclusions may be drawn
from the evidence does not render the evidence insubstantial.
See Dunlap v. Action Warehouse, 824 N.W.2d 545, 555
(Iowa 2012). We do not ask "whether the evidence would
support a different finding than the finding made by the
commissioner, but whether the evidence supports the findings
actually made." Schutjer v. Algona Manor Care
Ctr., 780 N.W.2d 549, 557-58 (Iowa 2010). We broadly
construe the findings to uphold the commissioner's
decision. See id. We also give due regard to the
commissioner's decision to accept or reject evidence
based on the commissioner's determination of witness
credibility. See id.
substantial record evidence support the determination of a
causal connection between Wood's heart condition and his
work injury? Like the district court, we conclude that it
does. Wood suffered an injury at work. He was diagnosed with
atrial fibrillation two-and-one-half weeks later. A-Tec and
EMC claim that Wood's heart condition is unrelated to the
work injury, citing the opinion of Dr. Joel Kline, who
performed Wood's independent medical examination. Dr.
Kline stated it was not possible to determine the cause of
the atrial fibrillation. But Dr. Craig Stevens, the
cardiologist who treated Wood's atrial fibrillation,
opined that the work injury was a substantial contributing
factor. The deputy commissioner found Dr. Stevens's
opinion was entitled to the greatest weight, noting that Dr.
Kline examined Wood on only one occasion while Dr. Stevens
treated Wood's condition. As trier of fact, the deputy
commissioner was free to ...