Teller entitled to temporary benefits for post-traumatic stress after robberies
Case name: Village Credit Union v. Bryant, No. 2-276/11-1499 (Iowa Ct. App. 05/23/12, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished opinion, the Iowa Court of Appeals held that a teller for a credit union was entitled to temporary total disability benefits.
What it means: In Iowa, to establish legal causation, a worker must show that the mental injury was caused by workplace stress of greater magnitude than the daily mental stresses experienced by other workers employed in the same or similar jobs, regardless of their employer.
Summary: A teller for a credit union was working when two armed robberies occurred. She visited her physician and complained of being fearful, having panic attacks, and not sleeping well. He prescribed medication. She also saw a counselor, who assessed her as having a generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. An independent medical examiner opined that she experienced PTSD due to the two robberies. The teller sought benefits. The Iowa Court of Appeals held that she was entitled to TTD benefits.
The parties agreed that the teller established medical causation. The credit union disputed that she proved legal causation. The court pointed out that the teller experienced two incidents which were of a sudden, traumatic nature and were from an unexpected cause. The court found substantial evidence that she established legal causation for her mental injury claim.
The court found that the teller had not reached maximum medical improvement. Her psychiatrist said that she was "nearing maximum benefit" from her medication. A counselor said that she would continue to improve. The court said it was premature to assess whether she had a permanent disability.
There was substantial evidence showing that she was not yet capable of returning to employment that was substantially similar to her employment at the credit union. The psychiatrist said she was not capable of returning to work in an environment where she was exposed to random members of the public. Her counselor said that she could not work as a bank teller.
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July 30, 2012
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