Submitted: October 8, 2014
Upon the Appeal of the Decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.
Sonja Taylor-Bray, pro se
Paige J. Schmittinger, Esquire of the Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware; attorney for the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.
William L. Witham, Jr. Resident Judge
Before the Court is the pro se appeal of Appellant Sonja Taylor-Bray (hereinafter "Appellant") from the decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (hereinafter "the Board" or "the UIAB") denying Appellant's appeal as untimely pursuant to 19 Del. C. § 3318(b). The Court has reviewed the record in this matter and the parties' submissions. For the following reasons, the Board's decision is AFFIRMED.
On August 19, 2013, the Delaware Department of Labor (hereinafter "the Department") issued a Notice of Determination informing Appellant that she had been overpaid benefits due to non-fraudulent actions, and that Appellant was liable to the Department for recoupment of those benefits. The Notice informed Appellant that she had been overpaid $1, 105.00 in benefits during the time period of August 6, 2011 to October 29, 2011. The Notice of Determination was mailed to Appellant's address of record at that time in Harrington, Delaware, and stated that she had until August 29, 2013 to file an appeal. Appellant filed an appeal on February 7, 2014.
On March 4, 2014, the Appeals Referee held a hearing on Appellant's case, and subsequently issued a decision that Appellant's appeal of the August 29, 2013 Notice of Determination was untimely. The Appeals Referee concluded that the appeal was untimely pursuant to 19 Del. C. § 3318(b). The Appeals Referee also noted that the mail was never returned to the Post Office or The Department, and was sent to the last address on record for Appellant. Appellant stated her reasoning for filing late was that the Local Office already had information pertinent to her appeal. Next, Appellant states that another reason she failed to respond to the Determination was due to emotional duress, and states she was under doctor's care during August 2013, which was when the appeal should have been filed.
The Appellant timely appealed the Appeals Referee's decision to the Board. On April 2, 2014, the UIAB decided Appellant's claim, affirming that Appellant's original appeal was untimely. The Board found no error in the Appeals Referee's findings or conclusions. The Board concluded that Appellant's appeal was untimely, through no fault of the Department of Labor personnel. Accordingly, the Board affirmed the Appeals Referee's decision. Appellant timely filed this appeal on June 2, 2014.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
When this Court reviews a procedural decision of the UIAB–which is a discretionary decision, as opposed to a factual decision that would trigger substantial evidence review–the Court must determine whether the UIAB abused its discretion in rendering its decision. There is no abuse of discretion unless the Board based its procedural decision "on clearly unreasonable or capricious grounds" or the Board "exceeds the bounds of reason in view of the circumstances and had ignored recognized rules of law or practices so as to produce injustice." If there is no abuse of discretion, the Court must affirm the Board's decision if the Board did not otherwise commit an error of law.
Section 3318(b) of Title 19 of the Delaware Code provides that a Claims Deputy's determination becomes final unless a claimant for unemployment benefits has filed an appeal from the determination within ten calendar days from when the decision was "mailed to the last known addresses of the claimant and the last employer. . . ." Under 19 Del. C. § 3320, the Board has discretion to consider an untimely appeal "if the lateness of the filing can be traced back to an ...