Gordon v. Miller Apple – 16.82

Gordon v. Miller Apple
Digest No. 16.82

Section 421.54

Cite as: Gordon v Miller Apple, unpublished opinion of the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission, issued October 3, 2012 (Docket No. B2011-11754-RM9-228743W).

Court: Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Thomas Gordon
Employer: Miller Apple, LP
Date of decision: October 3, 2012

View/download the full decision

HOLDING: The Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission (MCAC) 1) reversed an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) order denying rehearing, and 2) found the claimant had not committed fraud under Section 54(b).  

FACTS:  The Agency found Claimant disqualified for benefits and liable for penalties under the fraud provision of Section 54(b).  Claimant did not contest his ineligibility, but did deny that he had committed fraud under the statute.  Because both cases involve similar facts and points of law, they were docketed together for a hearing pursuant to Administrative Rule R421.1205.  Because the ALJ was unavailable, those hearings were cancelled and rescheduled for a subsequent date at 11:00am and 12:00 pm respectively.  Claimant’s attorney received only one of these notices of hearing, and thus told Claimant to arrive at noon on the day of the hearing.  When Claimant failed to appear for his 11:00 am hearing, he found the claim had been dismissed.  The ALJ subsequently found no good cause for Claimant’s failure to appear and denied his request for rehearing.  On the question of fraud, Claimant testified that while he did not contest his ineligibility, he did not commit fraud under Section 54(b).  Claimant had not reported his irregular part time earnings, but immediately began reporting them when informed of this requirement.

DECISION: The Commission made two holdings: on the question of Claimant’s request for rehearing, the Commission found good cause for Claimant’s failure to appear and set aside the ALJ order denying rehearing.  On the question of fraud, the Commission reversed the Agency determination finding fraud under Section 54(b), finding that Claimant did not intentionally misrepresent a material fact to obtain benefits to which he was not entitled.

RATIONALE: On the question of Claimant’s request for rehearing, the Commission found that the attorney’s failure to receive both notices of hearing established good cause for Claimant’s failure to appear at his first scheduled hearing.  On the question of fraud, the Commission found Claimant’s testimony credible in showing he did not intentionally misrepresent a material fact to the Agency to obtain benefits he was not entitled to, and thus did not commit fraud within the meaning of Section 54(b).  Here, Claimant incorrectly reported irregular part-time income to the Agency, but called the Agency to determine if and how to report these earnings.  As soon as Claimant discovered his error, he began reporting his earnings.  The Commission thus found that while he remained ineligible for benefits, he did not commit fraud under Section 54(b).

Digest author: Laura Page, Michigan Law, Class of 2018
Digest updated: December 27, 2017