Ross v. Acrisure P1, LLC – 7.39

Ross v. Acrisure P1, LLC

Digest no. 7.39

Section 28(1)(c)

Cite as: Ross v. Acrisure P1, LLC, Unpublished Opinion of the Court of Appeals of Michigan, Issued August 14, 2014 (Docket no. 315347).

Appeal Pending: No
Claimant: Michael T. Ross (Appellee)
Employer: Hill’s Crate Mill (Appellants: UIA)
Docket no. 315347
Date of decision: Aug. 14, 2014

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Holding: Claimant’s receipt of social security benefits did not preclude him from asserting that he was willing and able to work for purposes of receiving unemployment benefits.

Facts: Claimant’s employer closed in 2009. In December 2009, claimant applied to the Agency for unemployment benefits, and he began to receive those benefits. Although initially claimant’s application for SSDI benefits was denied, claimant successfully appealed that decision on September 21, 2011. On November 29, 2011, claimant informed the Agency that the SSA determined that he was disabled. As a result, on December 20, 2011, the Agency issued a determination informing claimant that he was not eligible for unemployment given his receipt of SSDI benefits.  In February 2012, an administrative law judge upheld the Agency’s denial of benefits and demand for repayment as well as the imposition of penalties. The MCAC affirmed. The circuit court overruled, stating it was “unable to find merit in the [MCAC’s] finding that the claimant’s application for social security disability was inconsistent with his testimony that he was ready and able to work in connection with his application for unemployment benefits.”

Decision: The Agency issued a determination informing claimant that he was not eligible for unemployment given his receipt of SSDI benefits. The MCAC affirmed. The circuit court reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court.

Rationale: There are two broad considerations relevant to determining whether judicial estoppel should prevent an individual from bringing claims under two statutory schemes when there is a potential that the claims involved may be inconsistent. First, courts consider whether there is an inherent conflict between the statutory schemes, such that a negative presumption should apply against the possibility of an individual pursuing both types of claims. See Cleveland v Policy Management Systems Corp, 526 U.S. 795, 802-803 (1999) (finding no inherent conflict between receipt of SSDI benefits and a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and rejecting application of a negative presumption). Second, courts consider whether a claimant’s purely factual assertions in the respective contexts genuinely conflict with one another, and whether an individual can explain any apparent contradiction.

There is not an inherent conflict between the statutory schemes such that a finding of disability for purposes of SSDI necessarily precludes the possibility of also receiving unemployment.  Nothing in claimant’s specific factual assertions in each arena which can be considered wholly inconsistent.

Digest author: James C. Robinson (Michigan Law ’16)
Digest updated: 3/15