Wednesday, July 13, 2005

UC appeals - petition for review - specificity

Deal v. UCBR, Commonwealth Court, June 22, 2005

This is a disturbing and potentially problematic decision (3-judge panel), which held that the claimant/appellant's petition for review in Commonwealth Court was not sufficiently specific and did not satisfy the requirements of Appellate Rule1513(d).

The UC case involved willful misconduct.  Ultimately, the UCBR denied the claim.  Claimant's petition for review said that

        -- the UCBR was guilty of an error of law in deciding to reverse the decision of the Referee and deny benefits

        -- there is a lack of substantial evidence to support the decision of the UCBR that reverses the decision of the referee and denies benefits to the claimant.

The Court said that the statement of objections is a "notice pleading" which "must do more than simply restate" the court's scope of review, as it said the claimant's petition did. 

The court noted that every subsidiary question is deemed to be included and that Rule 1513(d) says that a petition must contain only "a general statement of the objections to the order or other determination."  Nonetheless the court said the the petition "must state its objections with 'sufficient specificity to permit the conversion of an appellate document to an original jurisdiction pleading and vice versa should such action be necessary to assure proper judicial disposition."

The court also noted that it had "declined to consider issues addressed in a claimant's brief but [which were] not [included] in his or her petition for review."

Ultimately, the court said the the petition "reveals no statement which fairly embraces the issue of willful misconduct and no statement identifying specific findings of fact that allegedly are unsupported by substantial evidence."

Rather than giving the claimant an opportunity to amend her petition for review, as a trial court might do in similar circumstances, the Commonwealth Court dismissed the case.

Donald Marritz, Attorney
MidPenn Legal Services
128 Breckenridge Street
Gettysburg, Pa. 17325
tel. 717/334-7623 x2414
fax 717/334-0863