The Pizza Delivery Driver’s [Academy] Award of Workers’ Compensation Benefits [Stalin would be so proud...]

The website Risk & Insurance provided this summary of a recent workers’ compensation case involving a delivery driver who was injured in an altercation when he returned to work from a pizza delivery run. In sort of a tongue and cheek fashion we re-write what was posted, but from the side of the Plaintiffs’ bar. If you want to read the Iowa Court of Appeals opinion then follow this link.

[Lawyers included Billy Joe Mallory and Allison M. Steuterman of Brick Gentry, P.C., West Des Moines, for appellant. Along to deliver justice is Nate Boulton of Hedberg & Boulton, P.C., Des Moines, for appellee.] [For you laypeople “appellant” means “we lost at the lower court level” and “appellee means “we hope to hold on to this win and someday actually get paid”.]

Pizza delivery driver wins benefits for injuries sustained in altercation

Case name: Big Tomato Pizza v. Cloud, No. 2-1199/12-1291 (Iowa Ct. App. 02/27/13).

Ruling: The Iowa Court of Appeals held that a driver was entitled to benefits.

What it means [for us to ship your pizza delivery job to China]: In Iowa, a worker's injury while performing his work duties arises out of and in the course of his employment. [What is meant to be implied is: That may be the law but it’s not what we paid the legislature to pass. Even though we think all workers should be treated as if they could be sent to a gulag if they even dear think about being paid for being injured. Just think about work as if this were a Bangladesh factory… you getting the picture? If we could we'd ship this job overseas, but then we'd have to give away the pizza for being late.]

Summary: A pizza delivery driver was returning to the restaurant from delivering a pizza when he heard a commotion coming from the front of the restaurant. He saw a man [hint, hint it might have been a pissed off customer… but we’re not saying.] being chased out of the door and happened to step in the way. The man struck him, and the two had a scuffle. [He may have been stabbed but we’re not going to mention that because to do so might make him more sympathetic.] The driver had difficulty breathing after the incident. [Could it have been because of a knife wound?] He was diagnosed with a small puncture wound to the left side of his chest and a collapsed lung. [What we’d like you to believe is a pen punctured his lung because the worker was acting with gross negligence for not using a pen pocket protector.] He continued to have pain in his chest and difficulty lifting his arm above chest level. [But so what, most victims of a stabbing do and they can’t collect workers’ compensation benefits.] The driver sought workers' compensation benefits. [Even though we hoped he wouldn’t for fear he’d be fired for some unrelated reason that he couldn’t prove.] The Iowa Court of Appeals held that he was entitled to benefits. [How dare they? This driver has delivered to gay people! Imagine that? Oh yeah we are making a profit for selling pizza to gay people! So what, let’s throw them all off the Court for doing their jobs!]

The restaurant argued [NOT! The insurance company argued, not the restaurant, but we think you’ll give us more sympathy if we say it was the restaurant.] that the driver deviated from the course of his employment [Deviated: When an employee thinks about retiring and living in paradise somewhere far-far away.] by voluntarily [Okay so maybe he was trying to further the business of the Big Tomato but still we didn’t ask him to do it.] engaging in an altercation away [2 feet from the front door] from the restaurant. The court disagreed, finding that the driver's injury arose out of and in the course of his employment. [We said “The Court” for fear on our next round the judge might remember us if we call him out by name.] The court said that the driver was performing a work duty at the time he was injured. [Well he was but we will never admit the obvious because like criminal law an obsurd defense is the most likely to be believed by the general public, who we think are dumb but because we need the fringe element we don’t say it publicly. We talk about it in the locker room and clubhouse of all the country clubs we belong but never in print.] He returned from delivering a pizza and walked into an incident already taking place. [I wonder what that “incident” that was “already taking place” was all about. How come they don’t mention what the incident was all about?]

The restaurant [that’s us the insurance company again] also argued that the driver willfully [Isn’t every act of doing what the employer wants you to d willful?] intended to get into a fight and the man wanted to injure the driver for personal reasons. [The personal reasons had mostly to do with this employee blocking his escape route.] The court disagreed. [In a nice way the Court told us we were nuts.] Although the driver's coworker said that he was chasing the man because he wanted to get into a fight, [How would they know what he was thinking? Are you making up the facts as you go along?] the worker's compensation commissioner did not find the driver had the same motivation. [The Commissioner saw through the malarkey and asked; “What’s all this malarkey about?”] Also, the court did not find evidence that the man struck the driver as a result of a relationship between the two that originated outside of work. [The man struck him because he happened to get in the way.]

With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey," Vice President Biden said during Thursday's debate [about Big Tomato] as he challenged the insurance company’s assertion that U.S. foreign policy has unraveled under pizza delivery guys. Link.

The court concluded that the driver had a 10 percent industrial injury. [Okay so maybe our choice of treatment wasn’t the best choice for the injured guy, but so what we saved money, your money; I mean our money! Sorry I almost slipped and told the truth. I’ll need to go to the insurance church confessional.] An independent medical examiner [Not really independent, he’s our paid stooge.] recommended that he lift pizzas at or above shoulder height only on an occasional basis. [Well because under Iowa law the insurance companies get to choose the doctors, they choose one who recommended conservative treatment; conservative treatment can be defined as any sort of treatment that leaves the knife blade in the workers torso and avoids spending any money on surgery.] The examiner noted that the driver described symptoms suggestive of post-traumatic stress disorder. [Meaning he was scared to death of getting knifed again.] The court ordered the restaurant to pay for a mental health evaluation of the driver and treatment if it was recommended. [Because it costs us money we are calling him out as a psychological wuss; although we do not want our children being pizza delivery drivers because it’s way too dangerous. And although 'psychological wuss' isn’t yet defined in DSM999 we are hopeful it will be at some point in the future. That point will be when we pay the AMA enough money to seat the right people on the AMA-DSM re-write board, like we did with the AMA Guides To Permanent Impairment, so they are written more in favor of the insurance industry than the patients we like to say are being served.]

Enough said, I rest my case.

Steve Lombardi
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Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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