Iowa Supreme Court rules on workers’ compensation issue

June 25, 2015

From time to time, ABI gets involved in an amicus capacity on legal issues that directly impact ABI members. One such case is Iowa Insurance Institute v. The Core Group of the Iowa Association for Justice. The case addresses the release of surveillance video as evidence in a workers’ compensation case. The Supreme Court ruled on Friday, June 12, in part for ABI and in part for the opposing group.

The case arose when a former workers’ compensation commissioner ruled that employers must release surveillance footage of an employee claimant who has made a workers’ compensation claim prior to that employee’s deposition. Both the District Court and the Iowa Court of Appeals upheld the commissioner’s ruling.

The Iowa Supreme Court considered two issues in this case: 1) whether the commissioner had the ability to make such a ruling, and 2) whether the commissioner correctly interpreted Section 85.27(2) of the Iowa Code, the code section related to evidence in workers’ compensation claims.

On the first issue, the Court decided that it was within the scope of the commissioner’s power to make these types of rulings. However, on the second issue, the court reversed the decision of the district court and found that the commissioner had incorrectly interpreted the law. The second issue substantively affects ABI members in a positive way by allowing them to protect surveillance footage as work product and not requiring them to release it to the claimant prior to a deposition.

ABI’s opponent in this case, the Core Group of Iowa, has petitioned the Iowa Supreme Court for a rehearing on the grounds that the court incorrectly interpreted part of the statute in question. We will keep you updated on the status of this case in the somewhat unlikely circumstance that the Iowa Supreme Court grants a rehearing.