Hill v. Vermeer Corp., 020721 IAWC, 5066032

Docket Nº5066032
Case DateFebruary 07, 2021
CourtIowa
JOHN HILL, Claimant
v.
VERMEER CORPORATION, Self-Insured Employer, Defendant.
No. 5066032
Iowa Workers Compensation
Before the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner
February 7, 2021
         Head Note Nos.: 1402.40, 1803           APPEAL DECISION           MICHAEL J. LUNN, II WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSIONER          Defendant Vermeer Corporation, self-insured employer, appeals from an arbitration decision filed on September 27, 2018. Claimant John Hill responds to the appeal. The case was heard on July 31, 2018, and it was considered fully submitted in front of the deputy workers' compensation commissioner on August 31, 2018.          On January 16, 2020, the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner delegated authority to the undersigned to enter a final agency decision in this matter. Therefore, this appeal decision is entered as final agency action pursuant to Iowa Code section 17A.15(3) and Iowa Code section 86.24.          In the arbitration decision, the deputy commissioner found claimant sustained permanent impairment as a result of the stipulated work injury. In making this finding, the deputy commissioner found that claimant's condition was causally related to the stipulated injury as opposed to any actions taken by claimant subsequent to his placement at maximum medical improvement. As such, the deputy commissioner ordered the defendant to pay all causally related medical bills. The deputy commissioner found claimant sustained eight percent impairment to the left upper extremity as a result of the work injury. The deputy commissioner ordered defendant to pay penalty benefits. Lastly, the deputy commissioner ordered defendant to pay a prorated portion of Robin Sassman, M.D.'s independent medical examination.          On appeal, defendant asserts the deputy commissioner erred in finding claimant demonstrated a causal connection between his work injury and his current condition. Defendant further asserts the deputy commissioner erred in finding claimant sustained permanent impairment as a result of the stipulated work injury. Lastly, the defendant asserts the deputy commissioner erred in assigning penalty benefits.          Claimant asserts the arbitration decision should be affirmed in its entirety. Claimant further asserts the deputy commissioner erred in not awarding additional penalty benefits for defendant's failure to investigate the extent of permanent disability and associated refusal to pay PPD benefits.          I performed a de novo review of the evidentiary record before the presiding deputy workers' compensation commissioner and the detailed arguments of the parties. Pursuant to Iowa Code section 86.24 and 17A.15, those portions of the proposed arbitration decision filed on September 27, 2018, that relate to issues properly raised on intra-agency appeal are affirmed in part, and modified in part.          I affirm the deputy commissioner's finding claimant met his burden of proving he sustained permanent disability as a result of the work-related injury. Likewise, I affirm the deputy commissioner's finding claimant met his burden of proving the work-related injury is the proximate cause of his disability and need for medical treatment without additional comment.          I affirm the deputy commissioner's award of penalty benefits based on defendant's failure to communicate the basis of its denial to claimant at or about the time of the denial without additional comment.          I modify the deputy commissioner's finding that claimant sustained permanent scheduled member functional disability of eight percent of the left upper extremity based on the impairment rating of Dr. Sassman. Based solely on Dr. Sassman's impairment ratings for loss of flexion and supination range of motion, I find claimant sustained...

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