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Oftedahl v. Allina Health System

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

August 5, 2013

Linda Oftedahl, Relator,
v.
Allina Health System, Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Department of Employment and Economic Development File No. 29785895-5.

Paul Onkka, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, Inc., Shakopee, Minnesota; and Charles H. Thomas, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, Inc., St. Paul, Minnesota (for relator).

Allina Health System, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent).

Lee B. Nelson, Amy Lawler, Department of Employment and Economic Development, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent Department of Employment and Economic Development).

Considered and decided by Hooten, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Cleary, Judge.

KALITOWSKI, Judge.

Relator Linda Oftedahl challenges the unemployment-law judge's (ULJ) decision that she did not file a timely appeal from a determination of ineligibility for unemployment-compensation benefits. Alternatively, relator argues that the ULJ failed to fully develop the record at her hearing. We affirm.

DECISION

"An agency decision to dismiss an appeal as untimely is a question of law, which we review de novo." Kennedy v. Am. Paper Recycling Corp., 714 N.W.2d 738, 739 (Minn.App. 2006). If an applicant for unemployment-compensation benefits fails to appeal an ineligibility determination within 20 days after DEED sends it, the determination becomes final. Minn. Stat. § 268.101, subd. 2(f) (2012). An untimely appeal from a determination must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Kennedy, 714 N.W.2d at 740. The statutory time period is "absolute and unambiguous, " Semanko v. Dep't of Emp't Servs., 309 Minn. 425, 430, 244 N.W.2d 663, 666 (1976), and no statutory provision authorizes this court to extend it. Kennedy, 714 N.W.2d at 739-40.

Oftedahl argues that she timely appealed DEED's June 7, 2012 determination that she is ineligible for unemployment-compensation benefits. The record indicates that on or around June 10, 2012, Oftedahl attempted to appeal the determination through DEED's online system. Oftedahl entered the required information and received a proposed hearing date and time but, when questioned at her hearing, indicated that she does not recall clicking the "Confirm" button. The ULJ found that she did not click "Confirm." As a result, DEED did not receive her appeal.

Oftedahl acknowledges that DEED had no record of her appeal but makes two arguments to support her position that the ULJ erred by dismissing her appeal as untimely. First, she asserts that she did, in fact, timely appeal by delivering a written statement pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 268.103, subd. 2(b) (2012). Second, she asserts that the ULJ failed to fully develop the record regarding the timeliness of her appeal.

"A written statement delivered or mailed to the department that could reasonably be interpreted to mean that an involved applicant is in disagreement with a specific determination or decision is considered an appeal. No specific words need be used for the written statement to be considered an appeal." Minn. Stat. § 268.103, subd. 2(b). Although subdivision 2(b) falls under the heading "Applicant's appeal by mail, " we previously have concluded that it also applies to statements submitted electronically via DEED's website. Kangas v. Indus. Welders & Machinists, Inc., 814 N.W.2d 97, 100-01 (Minn.App. 2012).

In Kangas, relator received two separate determinations of ineligibility for unemployment-compensation benefits on two different grounds. Id. at 99. Prior to the deadline for appeal on either determination, relator appealed one determination via the DEED website but entered facts related to both determinations. Id. Despite relator's failure to specifically indicate that he was appealing both determinations, we held that relator's statement regarding the facts of both was sufficient to constitute a "written statement delivered" under Minn. Stat. ยง ...


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