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Hammond v. Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board

Superior Court of Delaware

May 22, 2019

Cheryl Hammond, Appellant,
v.
Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, Appellee.

          Submitted: March 7, 2019

         Upon Appeal from the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board: AFFIRMED.

          Cheryl Hammond, pro se, Appellant.

          Victoria W. Counihan, Esq., Deputy Attorney General, Attorney for Delaware Department of Labor, Division of Unemployment Insurance.

          ORDER

          SHELDON K. RENNIE, JUDGE

         Before the Court is pro se appellant, Cheryl Hammond's ("Hammond"), appeal[1] from a decision[2] of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (the "Board"), dated October 18, 2018. In that decision, the Board refused to review a Claims Deputy's Determination because Hammond's appeal of that Determination was untimely. Upon consideration of Hammond's briefs on appeal, [3] and the record in this case, it appears to the Court that:

         1. On August 16, 2018, the Division of Unemployment Insurance of the Delaware Department of Labor (the "Division") issued Determination No. 11100650 ("0650 Determination"), [4] finding that Hammond was not eligible for unemployment benefits from her employment with the Delaware Technical & Community College.[5]On August 23, 2018, the Division issued Determination No. 61102769 ("2769 Determination"), [6] which required Hammond to repay those benefits made to her for which, according to the 0650 Determination, she was ineligible.

         2. On September 7, 2018, Hammond appealed the 2769 Determination to an Appeals Referee.[7] The Division notified Hammond that, because her appeal from the 2769 Determination was untimely, the review of the appeal would be limited solely to the issue of timeliness.[8] The Appeals Referee held a hearing on that matter, and at the hearing, reiterated that "the only issue" that he could address was "timeliness."[9] In his decision[10] issued on September 25, 2018, the Appeals Referee found that Hammond's appeal was filed beyond the statutorily required time limit, and therefore the underlying 2769 Determination was deemed final and binding. Hammond again appealed, this time before the Board.[11] On October 18, 2018, without a hearing, [12] the Board issued a decision affirming the Appeals Referee. Hammond appealed the Board's decision to this Court.

         3. The Court's review of an appeal from a decision of the Board is limited to determining whether the Board's decision is "free from legal error" and supported by "substantial evidence."[13] Here, the issue on appeal has nothing to do with the merits of Hammond's underlying petition for unemployment benefits, but is limited solely to whether Hammond's appeal of the Division's 2769 Determination to the Appeals Referee was filed in a timely manner. The Court finds that it was not.

         4. Title 19, Section 3318 provides that, unless a claimant files an appeal within 10 calendar days after a Claims Deputy's determination was mailed to the claimant's last known address, such determination "shall be final and benefits shall be paid or denied in accordance therewith."[14] In this case, the 2769 Determination was mailed to Hammond on August 23, 2018. Thus, Hammond had until September 4, 2018 to file an appeal of the Determination.[15] However, Hammond did not file her appeal until September 7, 2018, which was beyond the statutory period. At the Appeals Referee hearing, Hammond admitted that she received the 2769 Determination and knew that "[the deadline] was Sunday."[16] There is no evidence that Hammond's late appeal was attributed to any mistake or error of the Division. Rather, the untimeliness of the appeal was solely caused by Hammond herself.[17]Therefore, the Court agrees with the Board that Hammond failed to appeal the Claims Deputy's 2769 Determination within the statutorily-required timeframe, and the Determination is final, legally binding and not subject to further review.[18]

         For all the reasons stated above, the Board's October 18, 2018 decision is AFFIRMED.

         IT IS SO ORDERED.

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