Cutler Law Firm, P.C.

Iowa Supreme Court Affirms Shoulder Decisions

The Iowa Supreme Court on April 1, 2022 affirmed both the Chavez v MS Technology, LLC and Deng v Farmland Foods cases.  As you may recall, both of these cases involved injuries to the rotator cuff.  The Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner held that injuries to the rotator cuff were treated as a scheduled shoulder injury rather than an unscheduled whole body injury under Iowa Code Section 85.34(2). 

These cases were the Iowa Supreme Court’s first opportunity to interpret the Iowa Legislature’s 2017 Amendments involving Iowa Code Section 85.34(2).  This code section added “shoulder” to the list of scheduled members injuries for determining permanent partial disability. 

The Court noted that the dispositive issue in this case pertained to the definition of “shoulder” as used in Iowa Code Section 85.34(2)(n).  The parties disputed whether the Claimant’s rotator cuff injury was a scheduled member injury to her shoulder under 85.34(2)(n) or unscheduled under 85.34(2)(v). 

The Court found that the statute was ambiguous as reasonable people could disagree on the statutory meaning of the word shoulder.  The Court then looked to statutory construction. 

When the Court looked at Section 85.34(2) in its entirety, the Court found that the legislature did not intend to limit the shoulder solely to the glenohumeral joint. 

As always, please contact any of the attorneys at Cutler Law Firm should you have any questions regarding this or any other issues.

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