Thursday, December 17, 2009

UC - reopening of hearing - good cause

Motley v. UCBR - Cmwlth. Court - December 16, 2009 - unreported memorandum decision

Claimant did not show good cause for missing her UC hearing under 34 Pa. Code 101.24(a), which says that

If a party who did not attend a scheduled hearing subsequently gives written notice, which is received by the tribunal prior to the release of a decision, and it is determined by the tribunal that his failure to attend the hearing was for reasons which constitute ‘proper cause,’ the case shall be reopened. 34 Pa. Code §101.24(a) (“Reopening of hearing”).

If the Board determines that a claimant did not have proper cause for failing to attend the referee’s hearing, then it must issue a decision based on the evidence developed in the claimant’s absence. Ortiz v. UCBR, 481 A.2d 1383 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1984).

In determining whether a claimant had proper cause for failing to attend a referee’s hearing, the Court in Savage v. UCBR, 491 A.2d 947, 950 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1985), concluded “a claimant's own negligence is insufficient ‘proper cause,’ as a matter of law, to justify his failure to appear at a referee's hearing ….”

The Court concluded here that it was the claimant’s own negligence that caused her failure to appear, and that her negligence was insufficient proper cause. The claimant testified that she had become lost and couldn't find the hearing office. The Board and court felt that she should have made more effort to find the hearing locations, including taking a test trip prior to the hearing.