Vicente Linares v. Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc.

IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF IOWA No. 17-1409 Filed June 6, 2018 VICENTE LINARES, Plaintiff-Appellant, vs. TYSON FRESH MEATS, INC., Defendant-Appellee. ________________________________________________________________ Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Eliza J. Ovrom, Judge. Vicente Linares appeals the district court order affirming the final agency decision denying his review-reopen petition. AFFIRMED. James C. Byrne of Neifert, Byrne & Ozga, P.C., West Des Moines, for appellant. Timothy A. Clausen of Klass Law Firm, L.L.P., Sioux City, for appellee. Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ. 2 DOYLE, Judge. Vicente Linares was awarded two-hundred weeks of permanent partial disability benefits after the workers’ compensation commissioner found that he sustained a forty-percent industrial disability when he was injured while working at Tyson Fresh Meats (Tyson) in June 2009. In 2013, Linares filed a review- reopening petition, alleging that he sustained an increased loss of earning capacity after he was awarded benefits. Following a hearing, the deputy commissioner found that Linares failed his burden of proving an increased loss of earning capacity and denied his petition. The commissioner affirmed the deputy commissioner’s decision, and Linares petitioned for judicial review in the district court. He appeals the district court order affirming the final agency decision, arguing the agency misinterpreted the law governing review-reopening proceedings. Our scope of review is for correction of errors at law. See Iowa R. App. P. 6.907. In reviewing the district court’s decision on judicial review, we apply the standards of Iowa Code chapter 17A to determine whether the conclusions we reach are the same as the conclusions of the district court. See Neal v. Annett Holdings, Inc., 814 N.W.2d 512, 518 (Iowa 2012). If they are, we affirm; if not, we reverse. See id. An award of workers’ compensation benefits “may be reviewed upon commencement of reopening proceedings by the employer or the employee within three years from the date of the last payment of weekly benefits made under the award or agreement.” Iowa Code § 85.26(2) (2013). The question is whether the condition of the employee warrants a change of compensation. See id. § 86.14(2). 3 Linares’s benefits may be increased if he has proved by a preponderance of the evidence that he “suffered an impairment or lessening of earning capacity” after he was originally awarded benefits. Simonson v. Snap-On Tools Corp., 588 N.W.2d 430, 434 (Iowa 1999). Linares is not required to show a change in physical condition, only that his earning capacity had decreased. See id. In addition, Linares must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the decrease in his earning capacity was “proximately caused by the original injury.” Kohlhaas v. Hog Slat, Inc., 777 N.W.2d 387, 392 (Iowa 2009) (quoting Simonson, 588 N.W.2d at 434. Linares claims his economic condition decreased because the permanent restrictions imposed as a result of his work injury prevented him from continuing to perform the work duties of the position he held before the injury, resulting in his transfer to a lower-paying position at Tyson ...

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