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Maher v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review

October 27, 2009

JOSEPH P. MAHER, PETITIONER
v.
UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Pellegrini

Submitted: September 16, 2009

BEFORE: HONORABLE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, President Judge, HONORABLE BERNARD L. McGINLEY, Judge, HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, Judge, HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge, HONORABLE JOHNNY J. BUTLER, Judge.

OPINION

Joseph P. Maher (Claimant), proceeding pro se, petitions for review from an order of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (Board) affirming the Referee's decision denying him unemployment compensation benefits pursuant to Section 402(e) of the Unemployment Compensation Law (Law)*fn1 because he was discharged for willful misconduct when he failed to comply with Karoly Law Offices' (Employer) directive to timely file a court document. Because Claimant has failed to preserve any issues for appeal, the order of the Board is affirmed.

Claimant was employed by Employer as an attorney from May 2, 2006, through his last day of work on December 24, 2007. He was discharged on December 24, 2007, for failing to timely file a complaint as requested by Employer. Claimant filed for unemployment compensation benefits with the Allentown UC Service Center which were denied, and he filed a request for a hearing with a Referee. The Referee denied Claimant benefits after finding that Claimant had been told that a complaint had to be timely filed, that the complaint had not been timely filed, and that behavior constituted willful misconduct. Further, Employer had been dissatisfied with Claimant's performance throughout his employment with Employer.

Claimant appealed and the Board found that he had a history of failing to take appropriate action with legal cases and ignoring deadlines and Employer had given him many "second chances." Specific to the incident at hand, the Board found that Employer had repeatedly reminded Claimant that this particular filing was due in court on December 21, 2007, and if the deadline passed, the case would be dismissed. Despite this warning, Claimant did not file the document by the deadline. Employer then told Claimant that he had to make the filing at the courthouse in Northampton County when it opened at 8:30 a.m. on December 24, 2007, and Claimant assured Employer he would work on the document over the weekend. Claimant did not come to the office over the weekend and only appeared at the office at 8:00 a.m. on December 24, 2007, not enough time to prepare the document. Claimant's only explanation for failing to work on the document over the weekend was that he was busy. Claimant was discharged for failing to comply with Employer's directive regarding the filing which amounted to willful misconduct. The Board stated that it credited Employer's testimony over Claimant's because Claimant had a history of failing to comply with deadlines, was repeatedly reminded of the importance of the filing, and still missed the filing deadline. Claimant did not justify his failure to comply with Employer's reasonable directive, and the Board affirmed the denial of benefits.*fn2

Claimant then filed a petition for review with this Court from the Board's decision stating this Court's jurisdiction over the petition, naming the parties and the determination sought to be reviewed, and alleging the following under "Objections to the Determination:"

6. The determination of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review is not supported by substantial evidence.

7. The determination of the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review is based on errors of law.

Claimant requests this Court to reverse the Board's order or, in the alternative, to remand the matter to the Board for further proceedings and the entry of a new order and/or a remand to the Referee to hear additional testimony from subpoenaed witnesses.

In response, the Board filed a motion to strike Claimant's petition for review for failing to preserve any issue for this Court's review. Specifically, the Board argued that Claimant's petition merely reiterated our standard of review and failed to articulate specific objections to the Board's decision as required by Pa. R.A.P. 1513(d); see also Deal v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 878 A.2d 131 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2005). Following the Board's motion, we ordered the motion to be decided with the merits of this case. The parties were directed to address whether this case is controlled by Deal or Pearson v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 954 A.2d 1260 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2008), and whether the opinions in those cases could be reconciled.

A petition for review must conform to the requirements of Pa. R.A.P. 1513(d). Rule 1513(d) requires "a general statement of the objections to the order or other determination." This general statement will be deemed to include every subsidiary question fairly comprised therein. Id. However, more than a restatement of our standard of review is required. Deal. We will not consider issues raised in a party's brief when they are not sufficiently addressed in the petition for review. Jimoh v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 902 A.2d 608 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2006).

In Deal, the claimant's petition for review merely restated our standard of review and contained nothing that fairly embraced the arguments that the claimant raised in her brief. There, the claimant's petition for review stated her objections to the Board's decision as follows:

a. The [Board] was guilty of an error of law in deciding to reverse the decision of the Referee and ...


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