Friday, August 25, 2017

admin. law - appeal - client late for hearing - good cause

Plouffe v. DHS – Cmwlth. Court -  August 21, 2017 –unreported memorandum opinion*


Appellant, an MA recipient, was 9 minutes late for his appeal hearing, due to his medical condition and his having fallen on the way to the hearing.   HDS conceded that claimant had good cause for delay and that a remand hearing on the merits was appropriate.

The Department does not dispute Client’s right to a hearing. Indeed, a claimant has a “right to appeal and have a fair hearing” when “applying for or receiving a money payment, medical assistance, food stamps or services [from the Department].” 55 Pa. Code §275.1(a)(2).

An applicant has “the right to appeal from a Department action or failure to act and to have a hearing if he is dissatisfied with a decision refusing or discontinuing assistance in whole or in part.” Id. The Department’s regulation establishes that a case will be dismissed if the Client “fails to appear at the scheduled hearing without good cause….” 55 Pa. Code §275.4(e)(6)(iii)(A).

Good cause may be established by evidence of a non-negligent reason for failing to attend. Eat’N Park Hospitality Group, Inc. v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 970 A.2d 492, 494 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2008).

Client’s assertion that he was nine minutes late for the hearing because of a fall is sufficient, if deemed credible, to establish good cause.

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*An unreported Commonwealth Court case may not be cited binding precedent but can be cited for its persuasive value.  See 210 Pa. Code § 69.414(b) and Pa. R.A.P.  3716

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