Fugh v. UCBR – Cmwlth. Court – January
18, 2017 – en banc
Firmly rejecting the UCBR’s
suggestions to change the law, the court held that an overpayment came under the
non-fault provisions of 43 P.S. 874(b) and not the fault provisions of 43 P.S.
“honest mistake” - the Board made a finding that Claimant made an “honest
mistake” in filling out her UC application online. She said that her unemployment was caused by
lack of work after she quit due to a reduction of hours that would not have
constituted good cause to quit her job.
Claimant “construed ‘lack of work’ to refer to a reduction in work
available to her, which described her situation.”
no intentional failure to disclose information, no false statement – the Board
also made specific findings to this effect
The en banc court rejected the UCBR’s
suggestions that it should overrule the long-standinbg (40 years) precedent of Cruz v. UCBR, 531 A.2d 1178 (Pa. Cmwlth.
1987) and Daniels v. UCBR , 309 A.2d
738, 741 (Pa. Cmwlth.), holding that “fault” is a “term that ‘connotes an act
to which blame, censure, impropriety, shortcoming, or culpability attaches.” It involves a “blameworthy act” that shows
the actor’s wrongful state of mind. The court said that the “commission of a mere
voluntary act does not establish fault. . . .The Board cannot hold a claimant
liable for a fault overpayment for a mere mistake or confusion.”
The court also noted the legislature’s
silence and inactivity in the face of the holdings in Daniels and Cruz.
The court said that “our long held
construction of ‘fault’ is not in need of ‘correction.’ It is as sound today as it was 40 years
ago. The revision to the Section 804
paradign proposed by the Board is one for the General Assembly to make.
Congratulations and thanks to Kevin
Burke of NWLS and Julia Simon-Mishel of PLA for their work on this case.
If the case is
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