Ashford v Unemployment Comp. Commission – 7.24

Ashford v Unemployment Comp. Commission
Digest no. 7.24

Sections 28(1)(c), 33

Cite as: Ashford v Unemployment Compensation Commission, 328 Mich 428 (1950).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Violet Ashford
Employer: Kelsey Hayes
Date of decision: Sept. 11, 1950

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SUPREME COURT HOLDING: The introduction into evidence of the file materials for a claim for unemployment benefits does not, by itself, operate to prove the claim. The burden of proof is on the party asserting the affirmative of the issue involved.

FACTS: Claimant filed for unemployment benefits and the Commission determined she was entitled. The employer appealed to the Referee. The claimant appeared in person, the employer by counsel. Claimant’s file materials were made part of the record over employer’s objections. Employer requested the claimant be questioned as to her eligibility. “[T]he Referee held that, because claimant was not represented by counsel, she might not be permitted to testify unless the employer called her for cross examination under the statute and agreed that her testimony should become the employer’s testimony, binding upon the latter.”

Employer contended claimant had the burden to establish her claim, even if the employer did not offer any evidence in opposition. The Referee held a prima facie case was established by entering claimant’s file into the record, and that the employer, by failing to offer evidence in opposition, had failed to prosecute its appeal, which was dismissed.

DECISION: Dismissal for lack of prosecution was error. Remanded for hearing on the merits.

RATIONALE: “The statute does not provide … a rule that in cases of employer appeals to referee the employer shall be held to have failed to prosecute its appeal unless it assumes the burden of the evidence and proceeds at the very outset to offer proofs in opposition to … the claimant…. [T]he employer was present by counsel who stated its position on the law, … and objected to the referee’s ruling that plaintiff might testify only as employer’s witness. In so doing, the employer did prosecute its appeal.”

“Introduction of that claim … into evidence did not operate to establish it. The claim does not prove itself…. [T]he obligation of the claimants is to establish the truth of their claims by a preponderance of the evidence.”

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated: 6/91