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Hockensmith v. Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

September 17, 2014

DANA HOCKENSMITH, Appellant,
v.
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEAL BOARD, Appellee.

Submitted: July 30, 2014

Upon Consideration of Appellant's Appeal from the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board

Dana Hockensmith, Pro se

Stacey Stewart, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware for Appellee

ORDER

Young, J.

SUMMARY

This is an appeal from a decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board ("the Board") holding that Dana Hockensmith's ("Appellant") appeal from a decision by the Department of Labor ("the Department") was untimely. The Department's decision barred Appellant from receiving unemployment benefits for one year, following a determination that she had defrauded the Department by underreporting her income from at least April 2013 to January 2014. Appellant argues that her untimely appeal should be excused due to a series of unintentional errors that prevented her from filing the appeal within the allotted time frame. The Court finds that the Board properly reached its decision as it was in keeping with the statute concerning the timely filing of appeals. Moreover, the Board's decision was based upon the uncontroverted evidence that Appellant failed to file her appeal according to the time frame set out by the Department. That the error was unintentional is of no consequence. Therefore, the decision of the Board is AFFIRMED.

The Appellant has further included among her papers two decisions by the Department establishing the overpayment amount stemming from the purported fraud committed by Appellant. To the Court's knowledge, these decisions have not yet been reviewed by an Appeals Referee or the Board. The Court, therefore, REMANDS the decision of the Department regarding the amount of overpayment owed by Appellant.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL POSTURE

On January 16, 2014, the Department issued a decision finding that Appellant had committed fraud by underrreporting her earnings, while collecting unemployment insurance benefits. The period in question was roughly from April 2013 to January 2014. The Department's findings were based upon a wage audit investigation through which it received information from Jevs Supports for Independence ("Jevs"), that Appellant had been paid wages from April 6, 2013 to May 25, 2013. Pursuant to 19 Del. C. § 3314(6) and § 3325, the Department held that the Appellant was barred from receiving unemployment benefits for a period of one year and would be liable to the Department for the amount of overpayment she received. At the time of the Department's decision, the overpayment amount had not been established and the Department reserved this finding for a later time. The decision further stated that this determination was final unless Appellant filed a written appeal by January 26, 2014.

Allegedly, as a result of her husband's failing to inform her of receipt of the decision, the Appellant did not see the document until January 26, 2014, the date her appeal was officially due. However, as the 26th fell on a Sunday, Appellant had until Monday the 27th to file a timely appeal. Appellant attempted to hand deliver her appeal to the Local Office on the 27th, but arrived after the office had closed. Appellant contends she was under the impression the office was open until 5 p.m. She left a copy of her appeal in the Local Office's mailbox, but it was not received by the Local Office until the 28th – one day past the due date.

On February 28, 2014, a hearing on Appellant's appeal was held before an Appeals Referee. On February 26, 2014, the Referee issued a decision dismissing the appeal as having been untimely filed pursuant to 19 Del. C. § 3318(b). Appellant filed an appeal of the Referee's decision with the Board on March 1, 2014. The Board affirmed the decision of the Referee on March 20, 2014.

The Department further issued two decisions regarding the amount of overpayment owed by Appellant on April 11, 2014 and May 8, 2014. The April decision found the Appellant owed $2, 640.00 and the May decision found the Appellant owed an additional $660.00. The Appellant appears ...


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