District Court Decisions Affirmed in Polaris Industries v. Hesby

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In Polaris Industries v. Hesby, No. 15-0629 (Iowa App. Feb. 10, 2016), the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed the decisions made by the District Court and remanded the case to the commissioner.

The case concerns Douglas Hesby, an employee of Polaris Industries. Mr. Hesby has been with Polaris since 1994, working in assembly and maintenance. Over his time at Polaris, Mr. Hesby has suffered a number of injuries. He has filed and received workers’ compensation benefits for these previous injuries. A right shoulder injury in 1999 resulted in an impairment rating of 6 percent. A hip injury in 2009 resulted in total hip replacement surgery in 2010. In 2011, the commissioner assigned an impairment rating of 20 percent, which was affirmed by the district court in 2013. In July, 2012 Hesby slipped on a wet carpet at work and injured his left shoulder and hip. After several months receiving treatment from an in-house therapist, he noted a lack of improvement and went to see another physician. In November, 2012 he was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff and muscle atrophy in his left shoulder. Polaris was unable to accommodate the work restrictions which resulted in Hesby receiving 8 months of workers’ compensation. In July, 2013, a doctor found that Hesby had a whole-person impairment of 10 percent.

In January, 2014 an arbitration decision found Hesby had a loss of earning capacity of 30 percent based on injuries to his left shoulder. The deputy found that Polaris was not entitled to credit for prior payment of benefits and awarded 150 weeks of PPD benefits to Hesby. In August, 2014 the commissioner affirmed the ruling and noted that Polaris had no records to indicate they had provided previous payment for 100 weeks of disability benefits. The District Court considered the matter and ruled that Hesby is entitled to benefits associated with a 30 percent loss of earning capacity. The court also ruled that Hesby had offered proof of past payments for 30 weeks during prior hearings, which provides evidence that Polaris is entitled to credit in this case.

The Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed both decisions of the district court and noted that even though Hesby is able to essentially perform at full capacity in his position at Polaris, there is reason to assume based on his education and previous employment that Hesby would face a loss of earning capacity were he to enter the job market again. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the district court, noting that the commissioner did not acknowledge previous statements from Hesby. Finally, the Court affirmed the decision to remand for further evidence of PPD benefits received due to 2009 hip injury claims.

Iowa Workers’ Compensation can be complex, and the law is constantly changing. If you have been injured on the job, you need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side. Contact Pothitakis Law Firm online or by phone at 1-866-804-3007 today for a free consultation!

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