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Guyton v. Irving Jensen Co.

373 N.W.2d 101 (1985)

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Guyton v. Irving Jensen Co.

Iowa Supreme Court

373 N.W.2d 101 (1985)

Facts

Frank Guyton Jr. (plaintiff) was injured while working for Irving Jensen Company (Jensen) (defendant) as a laborer on a highway construction project. Guyton was struck in the hip by a cement truck, spraining his lower back. Guyton was approximately 40 years old but did not know his exact age and was illiterate, having had only one month of formal education. Psychological tests suggested that Guyton suffered from mild cognitive disabilities. Before the injury, Guyton had worked as a farm hand, fertilizer bagger, garbage collector, and janitor. Evidence at Guyton’s workers’-compensation hearing indicated that his injury resulted in a 15 to 20 percent bodily impairment due to recurring back pain. Guyton’s physician testified that Guyton could not regularly perform any job that involved bending, prolonged sitting, or lifting as little as 10 to 15 pounds. A vocational counselor testified that before Guyton was injured, he could obtain employment in the bottom 10 percent of the labor market; however, after the injury, he could not obtain jobs even in that category because his physical and mental limitations combined to screen him out of opportunities. The vocational counselor considered Guyton to be 100 percent disabled. Since the accident, Guyton had applied for work in numerous places, some as far as 150 miles from his home, but had not found a job. Guyton subsisted through Social Security disability payments and by earning small amounts through junking activities. The industrial commissioner assessed Guyton to be 20 percent disabled and awarded him benefits based on a 20 percent industrial disability. The district court affirmed. The court of appeals reversed, finding that Guyton carried his burden of proving total disability as a matter of law. Jensen appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McCormick, J.)

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