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Kiernan v. Caribou Coffee Co. Inc.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

August 12, 2013

Kelly Kiernan, Relator,
v.
Caribou Coffee Company, Inc., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Department of Employment and Economic Development File No. 30068511-3

Kelly Kiernan, West Fargo, North Dakota (pro se relator)

Caribou Coffee Company, Inc., c/o ADP-UCM/The Frick Company, St. Louis, Missouri (respondent)

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

Considered and decided by Connolly, Presiding Judge; Larkin, Judge; and Cleary, Judge.

LARKIN, Judge

In this certiorari appeal, relator challenges an unemployment-law judge's (ULJ) determination that he is ineligible for unemployment benefits. We affirm.

FACTS

Relator Kelly Kiernan worked as a store manager for respondent Caribou Coffee Company Inc. from February 2005 to August 2012. Kiernan's employment ended after a Caribou district manager discovered that Kiernan was miscalculating inventory, which resulted in increased bonus payments to Kiernan. The district manager reviewed the correct inventory process with Kiernan and directed him to discontinue his incorrect method. Three days later, Kiernan again used the incorrect method. Caribou discharged Kiernan for falsifying the inventory count at his store.

Kiernan established an unemployment-benefits account with respondent Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). DEED determined that Kiernan was eligible for benefits and mailed a determination-of-eligibility letter to Kiernan that informed him that the "determination will become final unless an appeal is filed by Wednesday, September 5, 2012." Kiernan moved to North Dakota for a new job on September 4. Caribou filed an appeal on September 5. DEED sent notice of the appeal and the September 19 hearing date to Kiernan at the address that it had on file for Kiernan, which was his sister's address in Minnesota. Kiernan did not respond or participate in the hearing. After the hearing, the ULJ determined, based on the evidence presented by Caribou, that Kiernan was discharged for employment misconduct and that he therefore is ineligible for unemployment benefits. The determination resulted in an overpayment of unemployment benefits in the amount of $2, 207.

Kiernan requested reconsideration and an additional hearing. He explained that he was "unaware . . . that [the hearing] was taking place" because he moved to North Dakota to take a new job and "assumed [he] would not be receiving additional communication from [DEED]." Kiernan further explained that he "learned about the hearing through mail that was at [his] sister's house" when he visited his sister the weekend of October 12-14. Kiernan argued that Caribou "took advantage of [him] not being present [at the hearing], and used completely untrue information to . . . defame and penalize [him]." The ULJ concluded that Kiernan did not show good cause for missing the hearing, denied his request for an additional hearing, and affirmed the determination of ineligibility. This certiorari appeal follows.

DECISION

This court may reverse or modify the ULJ's decision "if the substantial rights of the petitioner may have been prejudiced because the findings, inferences, conclusion, or decision" are "unsupported by substantial evidence in view of the entire record as submitted." Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d)(5) (2012). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Minneapolis Van & Warehouse ...


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