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Pyle v. Panache Mechanical, LLC

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

July 30, 2013

Joseph Pyle, Appellant,

Submitted: April 25, 2013

Upon Appellant's Appeal from the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board's Decision.

Joseph K. Pyle, 3108 Green St., Claymont, Delaware, pro se, Appellant.

Katherine R. Witherspoon, Crossland & Associates, LLC, 4001 Kennett Pike, Suite 316, Two Greenville Crossing, Greenville, Delaware, Appellee.



I. Introduction

This appeal, filed by Joseph Pyle ("Pyle"), challenges the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board's ("UIAB") decision on November 14, 2012 that denied Pyle unemployment benefits. Pyle filed this instant appeal on November 21, 2012. The parties were placed on a briefing schedule on February 27, 2013. The final brief was submitted to this Court on April 22, 2013 and the matter was referred to this Judge on April 25, 2013. This Court must determine whether the UIAB's conclusion that Pyle was ineligible for unemployment benefits because he voluntarily resigned without good cause is supported by substantial evidence and is free from legal error.[1] After reviewing the pleadings and the record, this Court has determined, for the reasons set forth below, that substantial evidence exists to support the UIAB's conclusion that Pyle voluntarily resigned without good cause and that no legal error is present. Accordingly, the matter is AFFIRMED.

II. Background

Pyle and three others owned and worked for Panache Mechanical LLC ("Panache"), which they started in 2010.[2] Soon after Panache commenced operations, one of the owners resigned from Panache, which left it with three owners, Pyle, Gary Frerrant, and John Rebideou.[3]At first, Panache was very successful, working as an outside contractor for Evraz Steel.[4] Until January 2012, Panache was using up to twenty laborers once or twice a week and earning up to $18,000 a job at Evraz Steel.[5] However, as the economy began to slow down, so did Panache's business.[6] As Panache's business struggled, it no longer hired additional workers. This left Panache with just the three workers, the three owners.[7] Moreover, Panache was no longer generating $18,000 a job, but instead was generating approximately $4,000-6,000 a job.[8]

As the business began to slow, each of the three owners took on separate roles.[9] One owner, John Rebideou, hurt his back and became the timekeeper for Panache. Meanwhile, another owner, Gary Frerrant, was the "the go to guy to get our jobs."[10] Finally, Pyle remained the manual laborer for Panache.[11] Even with the separation of duties, the owners began rotating Fridays off from work.[12] For example, Pyle would be off one Friday from work, while Gary Frerrant and John Rebideou would work. [13] As the business continued to slow, Mr. Pyle stated " there wasn't hardly any work and we all seen the writing on the wall that we were either all be out of business or try to keep the company going."[14]

At this point, one of the owners, Gary Frerrant, stated that he wanted to leave Panache, but Pyle disagreed because without Gary Frerrant, Panache would not be able to earn any work.[15] As such, Pyle believed it would be more beneficial to lay-off either John Rebideou or himself.[16] Additionally, at this time, Pyle had disagreements with the other owners over Panache's operations and purchases.[17]

These disagreements started in April 2012 at a breakfast between the three owners.[18] At this breakfast, the owners discussed a number of purchases with which Pyle disagreed including the purchase of a $4,000 Harley Davidson on behalf of Panache for a supervisor at Evraz Steel.[19]Pyle believed this purchase was to get Panache work and disagreed with this business decision.[20]

The difference of opinion between Pyle and the other two owners concerning purchases on behalf of Panache and Panache's slowed business led to Pyle's resignation from Panache on May 31, 2012.[21] As part of Pyle's resignation, Pyle received a $31,000 buyout that was reflective of Pyle's one-third ownership.[22] Additionally, Pyle signed a General Release that prevented him from pursuing claims, liability, actions, and judgments against Panache.[23]

Following Pyle's resignation, he was unable to find work and filed for unemployment.[24]On July 26, 2012, after reviewing Pyle's case, the claims deputy referred this issue to an appeals referee because of the complex nature of Pyle's case.[25] On August 22, 2010, the appeals referee held a hearing after which she determined that Pyle voluntarily resigned from Panache for personal reasons stemming from a difference of opinion among Pyle and the other owners.[26]Having found, Pyle did not have good cause to voluntarily resign from Panache, the referee determined Pyle was ineligible for unemployment benefits.[27] Pyle appealed the referee's decision to ...

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