Monday, April 09, 2018

UC - late appeal - life events

Carney v. UCBR – Cmwlth. Court – January 19, 2018

Held:  Pressure of the particular life events in this case (birth of child, demands of starting a business) are not sufficient to excuse an untimely appeal.

Timely appeal is jurisdictional -- Failure to file a timely appeal as required by Section 501(e) of the Law is a jurisdictional defect. Russo v. UCBR, 13 A.3d 1000 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010). The time limit for a statutory appeal is mandatory; it may not be extended as a matter of grace or indulgence. Id.

Exceptions - To justify an exception to the appeal deadline, Claimant must demonstrate that his delay resulted from extraordinary circumstances involving fraud, a breakdown in the administrative process, or non-negligent circumstances relating to Claimant himself. See id. This is an extremely heavy burden. Blast Intermediate Unit No. 17 v. UCBR, 645 A.2d 447 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1994); Reed v. UCBR, 406 A.2d 852 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1979).

Failure to notice appeal deadline - A claimant’s failure to notice the appeal deadline in a UC determination does not constitute a non-negligent circumstance justifying an untimely appeal. Reed; Delaney v. UCBR, 368 A.2d 1351 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1977). Thus, Claimant’s explanation that he failed to notice the appeal deadline in the determination he received from the Department is legally insufficient to excuse his failure to file a timely appeal.

Pressure of claimant’s particular life events not sufficient - The pressure of many life events is likewise insufficient to excuse an untimely appeal. This Court consistently rejects such excuses. See, e.g., Constantini v. UCBR, 173 A.3d 838 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2017), (ongoing legal issues, home computer network issues, and medical emergency appointments); Maloy v. UCBR (Pa. Cmwlth., No. 1009 C.D. 2015, filed April 13, 2016), 2016 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 271 (unreported) (dealing with brother’s death, moving, and caring for daughter and sick mother); Burgher v. UCBR (Pa. Cmwlth., No. 1929 C.D. 2014, filed July 7, 2015), 2015 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 461 (unreported) (anxiety and stress from layoff); Rabe v. UCBR (Pa. Cmwlth., No. 1785 C.D. 2013, filed February 24, 2014), 2014 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 115 (unreported) (financial stress and multiple pending court cases); Menges v. UCBR (Pa. Cmwlth., No. 2230 C.D. 2009, filed April 22, 2010), 2010 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 254 (unreported) (death in the family and lingering effects of a medical condition). We cite these decisions as persuasive. See 210 Pa. Code §69.414(a).

Major life events may excuse late appeal – “We do not suggest that a major life event can never furnish a sufficient non-negligent reason to allow an untimely appeal. See, e.g., Cook v. UCBR, 671 A.2d 1130 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1996) (en banc) (claimant showed non-negligent extraordinary circumstances justifying a late appeal, where he filed four days late because on the deadline for the appeal, he was hospitalized in a cardiac care unit after a collapse).”

This case is also reported in the PLAN Legal Update , which is searchable and can be accessed without a password.