Erick Lopez v. Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation

Posted on Jul 13, 2017

This was a recent case heard in the Iowa Court of Appeals. Erick Lopez worked for Cargill Meat Solutions when he was injured on the job.  Lopez was awarded 35 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits for his injury, but was unhappy with the award. Lopez felt he should have been awarded industrial disability and scheduled impairment. He appealed the decision by the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner.  The reason Lopez gives for appealing was that his "independent experts presented substantial credible evidence of industrial disability and scheduled impairment" and "it is inherently unfair, irrational, and illogical to substantially and totally reject independent evaluations ...for arbitrary, illogical, minimal reasons."

In proceedings such as these, the Workers' Compensation Commissioner is responsible for determining the weight to be given expert testimony. "The Commissioner is free to accept or reject an expert's opinion in whole or in part, particularly when relying on a conflicting expert opinion. Cedar Rapids Cmty. Sch. Dist. v. Pease, 807 N.W.2d 839, 850 (Iowa 2011).  Further, regarding appeals "the courts, in their appellate capacitiy, are not at liberty to accept contradictory opinions of other experts in order to reject the finding of the commissioner." (quoting Dille v. Plainview Coal Co., 250 N.W. 607, 615 (Iowa 1933).

The Commissioner gave greater weight to certain expert opinions over others which he has the authority to do. He explained this in his decision which was supported by substantial evidence in the case. The decision was affirmed in favor of Cargill Meat Solutions.