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Estrada v. Department of Employment and Economic Development

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

November 25, 2013

Jose L. Estrada, Relator,
v.
Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Department of Employment and Economic Development File No. 30419000-3.

Jose L. Estrada, Woodbury, Minnesota (pro se relator).

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

Considered and decided by Hooten, Presiding Judge; Schellhas, Judge; and Stauber, Judge.

HOOTEN, Judge

Relator applied for and received unemployment benefits but was later found to have committed fraud by failing to disclose earnings while receiving benefits. Relator appealed a determination of ineligibility, which was later dismissed by an unemployment law judge (ULJ) after relator failed to participate in a rescheduled telephone hearing. Relator argues that he did not receive proper notice of the rescheduled hearing and asserts that he thought he was supposed to reschedule the hearing. We affirm.

FACTS

Relator Jose L. Estrada established a benefit account effective July 1, 2012, and received payments between August 12 and October 30, 2012. An Unemployment Insurance Request for Weekly Wage Information submitted by The Long Term Care Group in Eden Prairie, dated October 30, 2012, established that relator worked between 16 and 54 hours per week between July 29 and October 27, 2012. On November 9, 2012, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) issued a determination of ineligibility, finding that relator fraudulently failed to disclose earnings and imposing a penalty of $639.20. A separate determination of ineligibility also dated November 9 calculated overpayments received by relator.

Relator appealed, and a notice of appeal dated November 30, 2012, scheduled a telephone hearing on the fraud issue for December 12, 2012, at 8:15 a.m. Through a Notice of Rescheduled Hearing dated December 3, 2012, the hearing was rescheduled for December 12, 2012, at 2:15 p.m. A ULJ called relator on the date and time of the rescheduled hearing. Relator did not answer and did not contact the ULJ after the ULJ explained in a voice message that the matter would be dismissed if relator did not call back. The ULJ called a second time minutes later and left a second voice message stating that the matter was being dismissed. The ULJ entered an order the next day dismissing relator's appeal due to his failure to participate in the hearing.

The record reflects that relator returned the Notice of Rescheduled Hearing to DEED with a note written on the notice, dated December 15, 2012, which stated: "I didn[']t see [t]his change plus this wasn[']t a good time for me[.]" An attached handwritten note, also dated December 15, reads as follows:

I wasn[']t aware of the change in the time[.] I wasn[']t available at that time [s]o I want a choice of time and [d]ate that I can be available. Not what best suits you and not me you changed it not me so I want the choice so I can be available[.] So I want to [a]ppeal the decision and have another hearing because I didn[']t know of the change in time[.] I thought I was supposed to reschedule.

Relator submitted a request for reconsideration on December 20, explaining as follows:

I was told to reschedule and [I] haven[']t yet but that is what [I] will do because [I] wasn[']t available nor did [I] know the new time[.] [I] didn[']t see it so [I] ...

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