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Companies that collect surveillance footage of injured workers must be prepared to release such footage during discovery in workers compensation litigation, the Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled.
In Iowa Insurance Institute et al. v. Core Group of the Iowa Association for Justice et al., the appeals court weighed whether surveillance footage was subject to Iowa law that says workers comp litigants must agree to the release of “all information ... concerning the employee's physical or mental health condition.”
The case was based on a 2012 decision from the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner, which said that the law requires the release of surveillance footage during discovery, records show.
The judgment was reached based on a petition from the Core Group, which is an Iowa workers comp attorney association, records show. That judgment was appealed by several insurance industry groups, including the Iowa Insurance Institute, Iowa Self Insurers Association, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies.
A Polk County, Iowa, District Court judge upheld the workers comp commissioner's judgment requiring the release of surveillance footage, according to filings. The Iowa Insurance Association appealed the ruling, along with several other insurance and trade groups.
In a 2-1 vote Wednesday, the Iowa Court of Appeals upheld the lower court decisions saying that surveillance footage must be provided as evidence in workers comp cases.
Insurance and trade groups in the case argued in part that Iowa law on evidence in workers comp cases applies only “to information ... held by third parties,” such as “medical records, bills, and treating and/or expert physician reports,” records show.
However, the appellate court majority agreed with the commissioner that surveillance footage qualifies as being part of “all information” that employers, insurers or injured workers have “access” to.
“The term 'all' is an 'all' encompassing word which brooks no limits,” the majority opinion reads. “Similarly, 'information' is broad enough to include video surveillance footage. As for the term 'access,' there can be no question the respondents had the ability to obtain the surveillance information they requested and authorized.”
Trade groups also argued that the release of surveillance footage would violate “attorney work-product privilege,” and might inform “the injured worker that the employer and insurer is aware of potential non-compliance with work restrictions or activities inconsistent with alleged injuries,” records show.
The appellate court disagreed, saying that surveillance footage shows “nothing more, nothing less” than a claimant's physical condition.
“The respondents may use the surveillance footage to denigrate claims of disability, but the footage alone does not reveal the mental impressions of an attorney,” the majority opinion reads.
The majority said that employers can argue that surveillance video qualifies as an “ordinary work product” that shouldn't be entered into evidence if they raise an objection during workers comp proceedings.
In a partial dissent, Judge Christopher McDonald disagreed that employers should be compelled to release surveillance footage in workers comp proceedings, and that he would have reversed the District Court's judgment. He noted that he interpreted the release of “all information” under Iowa law to mean “medical records and similar or related documents that typically, although not necessarily, would be held by third parties,” and not surveillance video.
(Reuters) — The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee approved a bill on Tuesday to encourage companies to exchange information with the government on hacking attempts and cyber security threats, officials said.