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Neal V.Annett Holdings, Inc.- Iowa Supreme Court March 2, 2012

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Posted on Mar 04, 2012

In this case, we must determine whether the Workers’

Compensation Commissioner (commissioner) erred in concluding that

light duty employment offered to an injured worker was not “suitable

work” under Iowa Code section 85.33(3) (2009) because the offered

employment was located 387 miles from the residence of the worker.

***

The distance between the proffered work and Neal’s residence was 387 miles.

Although Neal was an over-the-road truck driver, which often required

him to spend extended periods of time away from home, Neal testified

that before the injury he ordinarily spent each weekend at home with his

wife and three children, and occasionally he returned home during the

week. Had Neal accepted the work in Des Moines, he would have only

been able to return home every other weekend—cutting his time at home

in half. As observed by the commissioner, “Being away from the support

of your wife and family, especially while recovering from a serious work

injury, is not an insignificant matter.” Further, there is no evidence in

the record establishing that Neal agreed as a condition of employment to

any relocation that Annett Holdings might require.

See Serwetnyk v.USAir, Inc., 671 N.Y.S.2d 537, 538 (App. Div. 1998). Based on the

evidence, we are satisfied substantial evidence supports the

commissioner’s findings of fact.  See Litzinger v. W.C.A.B., 731 A.2d 258,262–63 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 1999)

(holding as a matter of law that light-duty

work offered to former over-the-road truck driver was “totally

unreasonable” when work was located 116 miles away from claimant’s

residence even though the employer offered to provide a motel room).

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