Thursday, May 14, 2015

UC - continuances

Magio v. UCBR – Cmwlth. Court  - MAY 14, 2015 – unreported memorandum decision



Held: Last minute request for continuance denied.


The UC regs, 34 Pa. Code §101.23(a) allows a continuance “only for proper cause and upon the terms as the tribunal may consider proper.” A claimant who desires a continuance due to his inability to attend a hearing has a duty to “immediately request a continuance in writing before the hearing.” Flores v. UCBR, 686 A.2d 66, 76 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1996) (citation omitted). The UC Regulations further provides that, “[i]f a party notified of the date, hour and place of a hearing fails to attend a hearing without proper cause, the hearing may be held in his absence.” 34 Pa. Code at §101.51.


In Cowfer v. UCBR, 534 A.2d 560, 562 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1987), we noted that “last-minute requests for continuances will not be viewed favorably by this Court.” Moreover, in Skowronek, 921 A.2d at 558, we reasoned that “[i]f counsel was unavailable due to a previously scheduled appointment, there is no explanation as to why the request was not made prior to 6:30 p.m. on the last business day before the hearing.” Even the four notices of hearing sent to Claimant advised: “If you cannot attend the hearing for any reason, you may request a continuance (postponement) of the hearing. You should do this as soon as possible.” (Notices of Hearing, 2/20/2014, at 3, C.R. Item No. 8.) (emphasis added).


In this case, not only was the continuance request filed shortly before the scheduled hearing, the reason given for the request was not because of an emergency or unexpected event. Instead, Claimant’s counsel stated that he could not attend because he was traveling abroad. Generally, such travel requires advance planning and counsel would know that he would be unavailable on the hearing date and should have requested a continuance much earlier, given that notices for the hearing were sent well in advance.


Given that the request for a continuance was received less than an hour before the scheduled time and was not because of an unexpected event, the Referee did not abuse his discretion in denying the continuance, and absent an abuse of discretion, we will not override a referee’s denial of a continuance. Steadwell v. UCBR, 463 A.2d 1298, 1300 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1983).




The opinion, though not reported, may be cited "for its persuasive value, but not as binding precedent."    210 Pa. Code 69.414.


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