Justia Public Benefits Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil
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Deborah Dorr requested to reopen an unemployment appeal hearing that was to address Dorr’s appeal of the Idaho Department of Labor’s (“IDOL”) decision denying Dorr’s request to backdate her Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claim. After Dorr failed to appear at the hearing, IDOL dismissed her appeal and subsequently denied her request to reopen the hearing. Dorr appealed IDOL’s denial of her request to reopen, and the Idaho Industrial Commission (“the Commission”) affirmed. The Commission determined due process was satisfied and agreed with IDOL that Dorr’s own negligence was insufficient cause to reopen the hearing. Appealing pro se, Dorr petitioned the Idaho Supreme Court for relief. The Supreme Court concluded Dorr’s briefing did not meet the standard for an appeal under Idaho Appellate Rule 35(a)(6) and as such, her arguments were forfeited. The Commission’s decision upholding the Appeal Examiner’s denial of Dorr’s request to reopen her appeal hearing was affirmed. View "Dorr v. IDOL" on Justia Law

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Access Behavioral Health appeals from the district court’s judgment upholding an order of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare that demanded recoupment of Medicaid payments made to Access. The Department sought to recoup certain payments made to Access because it failed to meet the Department’s documentation requirements. Following an audit of provider billings, the Department found Access billed Medicaid for two codes for services provided to the same patient on the same day without documentation to support its use of the codes. The Department concluded the documentation deficiencies violated IDAPA Rule 16.03.09.716 and the Handbook. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the Department had legal authority to issue recoupment demands to Access. Access failed to demonstrate an entitlement to payment of those funds sought to be recouped. The False Claims Act's materiality requirement was inapplicable to the Department’s administrative action. Finally, laches did not bar the Department’s administrative actions. Judgment was thus affirmed. View "Access Behavioral Health v. IDHW" on Justia Law

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Patricia Allen appealed the Idaho Industrial Commission’s (the “Commission”) decision denying unemployment benefits. Allen was employed by Partners in Healthcare, Inc., doing business as North Canyon Medical Center (“NCMC”), between February 5, 1999, and May 8, 2020. On May 8, 2020, the CEO of NCMC and the HR director met with Allen to discuss her job performance. Allen was presented with a performance improvement plan (“PIP”), which outlined examples of Allen’s poor job performance and identified expectations for improving her performance. It was explained to Allen that if she wanted to forego the PIP, she could sign a severance agreement. Allen was then presented with a proposed severance agreement. Allen asked if she could discuss her options with her husband, but was pressed to make her decision then and there. The CEO told Allen that he thought it was in her best interest to take the severance package. Allen decided to forgo the PIP and took the severance agreement. After separating from NCMC, Allen filed an unemployment claim with the Idaho Department of Labor (“IDOL”). NCMC’s response to the Idaho Department of Labor was prepared by the Idaho Hospital Association (“IHA”), NCMC’s third-party administrator. IHA’s human resources director identified Allen’s reason for separation as “Fired/Discharged” and indicated Allen did not receive any compensation after her separation. IDOL determined Allen was eligible for unemployment benefits. NCMC’s HR director appealed the IDOL decision; IDOL sent NCMC and Allen a hearing notice on whether Allen quit voluntarily and, if so, whether she quit for good cause or was discharged for misconduct in connection with her employment. Following the hearing, the appeals examiner issued a written decision that denied Allen unemployment benefits. The examiner also found that Allen did not follow the grievance procedures to report her issues with her supervisor prior to quitting. In reversing the Commission’s decision, the Idaho Supreme Court concluded the Commission erred in failing to analyze whether the PIP was a viable option that would have allowed Allen to continue working. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "Allen v. Partners in Healthcare, Inc." on Justia Law

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Brett Woolley appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission (“Commission”) decision that found him ineligible for unemployment benefits. The Commission determined that Woolley was ineligible for benefits because he was a corporate officer whose claim for benefits was based on wages from a corporation in which he had an ownership interest. The Commission also determined Woolley willfully made a false statement by saying he had not received wages or performed services as a corporate officer. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the Commission’s determination that Woolley was ineligible for benefits due to his status as a corporate officer because it was supported by substantial and competent evidence. However, the Court found Woolley did not willfully misrepresent his status as a corporate officer, "The statute makes no mention of a claimant’s performance of services as a corporate officer. To compound the confusion, IDOL provides no information in the unemployment handbook or on its website to explain why it is necessary for claimants to report their corporate officer status when filing a claim for benefits. To serve as the basis for a willful failure to report a material fact, the question to be answered by a claimant must be accurately grounded in the legal requirements of the statute." View "Woolley v. Idaho Dept. of Labor" on Justia Law

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On November 20, 2018, the Acting Governor of Idaho issued a proclamation that Proposition 2 had passed, and subsequently the Idaho Code was amended to add section 56-267, a statute to expand Medicaid eligibility in Idaho. Petitioner Brent Regan argued 56-267 violated Idaho’s Constitution by delegating future lawmaking authority regarding Medicaid expansion to the federal government. Regan requested the Idaho Supreme Court declare section 56-267 unconstitutional and issue a writ of mandamus to direct the Secretary of State Lawerence Denney to remove section 56-267 from the Idaho Code. Finding the statute constitutional, the Supreme Court dismissed Regan’s petition and denied his request for a writ of mandamus. View "Regan v. Denney" on Justia Law

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On July 11, 2013, the Idaho Department of Labor (“IDOL”) mailed an eligibility determination for unemployment benefits (the “2013 determination”) to William Wittkopf. This determination found Wittkopf underreported his wages for several weeks, which resulted in an overpayment in unemployment benefits. As a result, Wittkopf was: (1) ordered to repay the overpayment; (2) ineligible for any unemployment benefits for a fifty-two week period; and (3) assessed a civil penalty. Additionally, Wittkopf was told that he would remain ineligible for unemployment benefits until all amounts were repaid. Pursuant to Idaho Code section 72– 1368(3) the last day for Wittkopf to file a protest to the 2013 determination was July 25, 2013, which he failed to do. IDOL attempted to collect on the 2013 determination over the next year without success. Subsequently in early 2016, Wittkopf filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The debt he owed to the state of Idaho was included in his bankruptcy and was discharged by order of the Bankruptcy Court. In September 2016, Wittkopf began filing new claims for unemployment benefits with IDOL because he worked a seasonal job and was not receiving any income in the winter months. After not receiving benefits for several weeks, Wittkopf called IDOL which informed him he was ineligible for unemployment benefits because he had failed to pay back his overpayment, civil penalty, and interest he owed IDOL, even though those amounts were discharged in bankruptcy. Wittkopf mailed a letter to IDOL protesting the denial of his unemployment benefits. Wittkopf claimed in this letter that he was eligible for unemployment benefits because his bankruptcy discharged any amount he owed to IDOL. An Appeals Examiner construed Wittkopf’s 2016 letter as a protest of the 2013 determination. Two days later the Appeals Examiner issued a written decision finding there was no jurisdiction to hear Wittkopf’s protest because it was not filed within fourteen days of when it was issued on July 25, 2013, as required by Idaho Code section 72-1368. On November 3, 2016, Wittkopf appealed the Appeals Examiner’s decision to the Industrial Commission. On January 27, 2017, the Industrial Commission affirmed the Appeals Examiner’s decision. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the Industrial Commission erred in affirming the examiner without having determined first whether: (1) the bankruptcy discharge voided IDOL's 2013 determination; (2) whether the discharge operated as an injunction against any effort to collect, recover or offset the 2013 debt; and if yes, (3) why the Department's denial of current benefits on the basis of the 2013 debt wasn't a violation of the injunction. The matter was remanded back to the Industrial Commission for further proceedings. View "Wittkopf v. Idaho Dept of Labor" on Justia Law

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Jessica Barr appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission (Commission) decision finding her ineligible for unemployment benefits and affirming the decision of an Appeals Examiner for the Idaho Department of Labor’s (IDOL) Appeals Bureau. The Commission found that Barr was discharged by her employer, Citicorp Credit Services, Inc. USA (Citicorp), for misconduct in connection with employment and determined that Barr was not eligible for benefits pursuant to Idaho Code section 72-1366(5). Barr argued that Citicorp representatives provided false information to the Appeals Examiner and her unemployment benefits should have been restored. Finding that the Commission's decision was supported by substantial and competent evidence, the Supreme Court affirmed the IDOL Appeals Examiner's decision. View "Barr v. CitiCorp Credit Svc" on Justia Law

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In 2008, Joseph Gerdon was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident that arose out of and in the course of his employment. He was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by a coworker, who drove off the road. The Industrial Commission awarded Gerdon benefits. Gerdon requested a hearing to determine whether he was also entitled to benefits for a compensable psychological injury. That issue was heard before a referee, who issued proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a recommendation that Gerdon had failed to prove that he was entitled to additional psychological care. The Commission adopted the referee’s proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law and issued an order. Gerdon appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. Because the Commission’s decision was based upon its constitutional right to weigh the evidence and determine the credibility of conflicting expert opinions, the Supreme Court affirmed the Commission's order. View "Gerdon v. Con Paulos, Inc." on Justia Law

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While claimant-appellant Judith Weible was employed by Safeway, Inc., she requested time off because she had to have surgery. Safeway granted her request and agreed to hold her job until she was able to return to work, which she intended to do. She was gone for approximately six weeks. While on leave, claimant applied for unemployment benefits. She was denied because during her leave of absence she was still employed, even though she was not working. An appeals examiner upheld the denial, and the Industrial Commission upheld the appeals examiner. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the Industrial Commission. View "Weible v. Dept of Labor" on Justia Law

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Respondent-Appellant Pneumotech, Inc. appealed the Industrial Commission's determination that its former employee, Petitioner-Appellee Angela Hopkins, was eligible for unemployment benefits. Pneumotech hired Petitioner as a bookkeeper and receptionist on July 3, 1995. She worked at Pneumotech until June 22, 2010, when her supervisor fired her. The same month, Petitioner filed a claim for unemployment benefits with the Idaho Department of Labor. At the hearing, Pneumotech presented testimony that Petitioner was discharged because: (1) for two years she had been habitually late for work; (2) she took time off without supervisor permission; (3) she took sick time off but went to the water park instead; (4) she spent time at work playing video games and talking on her cell phone; and (5) she failed to help train a new employee when asked. Petitioner denied all of these accusations, including that her supervisor had repeatedly warned her that her conduct was unacceptable. In fact, the supervisor testified that Petitioner never received a written warning or suspension, and in January 2009, she received a $2-per-hour raise. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the Commission did not abuse its discretion or violate Pneumotech's right to procedural due process in denying the company's request for a new hearing. Furthermore, substantial and competent evidence supported the Commission's decision to uphold Petitioner's award of unemployment benefits. Accordingly, the Court affirmed. View "Hopkins v. Pneumotech, Inc." on Justia Law