by | Aug 12, 2022

Evilsizor v. Northern Ag Services, Inc. provides an example of how an employee did not meet his burden of proof when petitioning for alternate care.

Section 85.27(4) of the Iowa Code provides that an employer has the right to choose a provider of care to treat the injured employee. The section also requires the employer to furnish all reasonable medical services, supplies, and appliances for the employee’s care. However, if dissatisfied with the care or supplies offered, the employee may seek alternate care from the employer’s provider if the employee can prove the care is unreasonable, not simply undesirable.

In Evilsizor, the employee’s injuries required him to sit and elevate his legs daily. The employee had previously filed a petition for alternate medical care requesting a recliner chair with a requirement for it to be replaced every 9-12 months, which the Deputy Commissioner ordered the employer to provide. The employer subsequently filed a petition for judicial review. Approximately 8 months later, the employee again filed a petition for alternate medical care to request a replacement recliner, as his had noticeably worn from daily use.

The employer contended that the recliner was not an appliance as defined under Iowa law.

876 Iowa Administrative Code 8.5 defines an appliance as “…any other artificial device used to provide function or for therapeutic purposes.” The Deputy Commissioner determined that a recliner is an appliance because it provides a therapeutic benefit to the employee, as further established by his authorized treating physician.

However, because the petition was filed before the 9-12 month replacement period began, the Deputy held the employee did not prove with reasonable necessity that he required a new recliner.

Therefore, the employee did not meet his burden of proof, and was denied a replacement recliner.

The District Court of Polk County later affirmed the Deputy Commissioner’s decision.

This post was drafted by Faith Kowalski, a law clerk at Baylor Evnen. If you have questions regarding whether a recliner is compensable in your case, please call Paul Barta or Micah Hawker-Boehnke at 402-475-1075.