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THERESA J. CEJA v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (04/03/79)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: April 3, 1979.

THERESA J. CEJA, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT

Appeal from the Order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review in case of In Re: Claim of Theresa J. Ceja, No. B-145343.

COUNSEL

Marian E. Frankston, with her G. David Pauline, for petitioner.

Daniel R. Schuckers, Assistant Attorney General, with him James Bradley, Assistant Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Rogers, DiSalle and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge DiSalle.

Author: Disalle

[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 488]

Theresa Ceja (Claimant) appeals from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) affirming a referee's denial of benefits to her by reason of a determination that her discharge from employment was due to willful misconduct within the meaning of Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law, Act of December 5, 1936, Second Ex. Sess., P.L. (1937) 2897, as amended, 43 P.S. § 802(e). It is conceded by the Board that the sole basis for the referee's decision consisted of hearsay evidence which was submitted by a representative of Claimant's employer, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue (Department).*fn1

In Walker v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 27 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 522, 527, 367 A.2d 366, 370 (1976), we held that unobjected to hearsay will be given its natural probative effect and may support a finding if it is corroborated by any competent evidence in the record. Since no proper objection was made to the admission of the hearsay evidence involved here, the question becomes whether any competent evidence corroborates the hearsay.*fn2

[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 489]

Recognizing that the record contains no evidence to corroborate any of the allegations made against the claimant,*fn3 the Board argues that the documents themselves are competent evidence under Section 2 of the Uniform Business Records as Evidence Act (Act), Act of May 4, 1939, P.L. 42, 28 P.S. § 91b.*fn4

Initially, we note that the Act does not make all business records competent regardless of the manner in which and the purpose for which they were compiled. Haas v. Kasnot, 371 Pa. 580, 92 A.2d 171 (1952). Rather, the Act imposes specific requirements which must be met if the evidence in question is to be admitted.

In the instant case, assuming arguendo that the memoranda were otherwise admissible under the Act, we find that the Department failed to lay the proper

[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 490]

    foundation for the introduction of the relevant documents. No evidence was introduced to show the identity and mode of preparation of any of the memoranda, or whether they were made in the regular course of business or at or near the time of the events. See Jones Appeal, 449 Pa. 543, 297 A.2d 117 (1972); Commonwealth v. Perdok, 411 Pa. 301, 192 A.2d 221 (1963). We have no difficulty concluding, therefore, that the Department's documentary evidence does not fall within the hearsay exception afforded by the Act. Since the Board's finding of willful misconduct was supported solely by uncorroborated hearsay, it cannot stand. The Department having failed to meet the requisite burden of proving willful misconduct, we will reverse the order of the Board.*fn5

Order

And Now, this 3rd day of April, 1979, the order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review dated May 16, 1977, is hereby reversed and the case remanded for computation of benefits.

Disposition

Reversed and remanded.


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