The Court of Appeals of Iowa Emphasizes Its “Severely Circumscribed” Role In Reviewing Workers’ Compensation Matters

by | Apr 4, 2014

Recently, in Des Moines Asphalt and Paving v Gomez, 2014 WL 1245474 (Iowa), the Court of Appeals of Iowa affirmed a Commission finding of a Claimant being permanently and totally disabled. However, what was of note in this opinion was the fact that the Court of Appeals of Iowa stressed the large amount of deference it was required to give to decisions of the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. The Appellate Court noted that “nearly all disputes are won or lost at the agency level; the cardinal rule of administrative law is that judgment calls are within the province of the administrative tribunal, not the courts.” The Appellate Court also noted that it is precluded from reassessing the weight of the evidence, that it found itself “obliged to apply those findings broadly and liberally to uphold rather than defeat the Commissioner’s decision.”

Essentially, the Court of Appeals took this opportunity to indicate to parties that appeals based strictly on factual disputes would likely have little chance of success at the District Court or Appellate Court levels.

This case emphasizes the need to address all evidentiary issues at the hearing and administrative appeal levels. The chance of success in the appellate court will be largely predicated on whether a legal issue exists as opposed to a dispute between the parties as to the strength of the evidence. For questions regarding appeals in Iowa workers’ compensation matters please contact Iowa workers’ compensation attorney Paul Barta at