Utsinger Obtains Landmark Shoulder Appeal Decision for Employers and Insurance Carriers

On Behalf of | Oct 1, 2020 | Blog, Lori Scardina Utsinger, Workers' Compensation Defense |

Chavez v. M.S. Technologies was one of the first cases in the state of Iowa to address the new shoulder scheduled member statute set in place by the legislature for all injuries occurring after July 1, 2017. Lori Utsinger obtained a critical appeal decision in how shoulder injuries will be defined under this new statute providing essential guidance to Iowa employers and insurance carriers.


At the arbitration level, the Deputy found that despite having an injury to the shoulder, as indicated by all physicians, the injury was to the body as whole because the structural anatomy existed proximal to the glenohumeral joint.

Lori Utsinger successfully argued on appeal that injury was in the purview of the express intent of the legislature and should be compensated based on the new shoulder scheduled member and not as an industrial disability.

The Commissioner agreed and overruled the arbitration decision indicating that the injuries sustained are properly compensated based on the new shoulder scheduled member or 400 weeks. The Appeal decision discussed not only the rotator cuff anatomy, but also the acromion and labrum in the context of a subacromial decompression. The Commissioner agreed that all of the anatomy discussed was again within the confines of a shoulder scheduled member.

While further appeal is anticipated, including appeal to the District Court and Supreme Court, , this case is crucial in protecting the interests of employers and insurance carriers as it pertains to shoulder injuries as shoulder injuries are one of the more common injuries seen in the workplace today.


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