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Wasilefsky v. Maine Department of Labor

Superior Court of Maine, Kennebec

April 23, 2019

MARIE WASILEFSKY Petitioner,
v.
MAINE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR and UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE COMMISSION Respondents.

          ORDER ON RESPONDENTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

          William R. Stokes, Justice

         This matter is before the court on the Respondents' Motion to Dismiss dated February 14, 2019.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Maine Unemployment Insurance Commission ("MUIC") issued the Petitioner an adverse decision on August 8, 2018. On August 30, 2018, Petitioner's counsel hand delivered the Notice of Appeal to the Office of the Attorney General and mailed a copy of said notice to the Department of Labor ("DOL"). Although the exact date is unknown, Petitioner's counsel hand delivered the Notice of Appeal to the Capital Judicial Center sometime "thereafter" but within thirty days of August 8, 2018 when the MUIC mailed the adverse decision to the Petitioner.

         Petitioner's attempted filing was returned to her by the clerk's office for failure to provide a Summary Sheet.[1] Petitioner refiled her Notice of Appeal with the court on October 12, 2018. On January 18, 2019, the court entered an Order that it would dismiss the case if no motion to remain on the docket was filed within fourteen days because no return of service had been filed with the court when Petitioner refiled on October 12. Petitioner responded on January 25, 2019, with certified mail return receipts showing that the Respondents were served on August 30, 2018. On January 28, 2019, the court ordered that the case remain on the docket and vacated its prior January 18 Order.

         Respondents moved to dismiss the case with prejudice on February 14, 2019, for lack of jurisdiction pursuant to Maine Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) as Petitioner did not file her petition for review within thirty days of her receipt of decision from the MUIC pursuant to 5 M.R.S. § 11002(3). On March 4, 2019, Petitioner objected to the Motion to Dismiss arguing that her failure to provide a summary sheet should be considered a "minor procedural irregularity" and her filing with the court should be considered timely.

         DISCUSSION

         Decisions of the MUIC may be appealed pursuant to the Maine Administrative Procedures Act ("MAPA"). 26 M.R.S. § 1194(8). The MAPA entitles a person aggrieved by final agency action to judicial review in the Superior Court under the rules set forth by the statute. 5 M.R.S. § 11001(1). When a party to an administrative proceeding appeals that agency's final action, "[t]he petition for review shall be filed within 30 days after receipt of notice ...."§ 11002(3). The Law Court has made clear that "[t]he time limit for filing a petition for review of a final agency action pursuant to the [MAPA] is jurisdictional." Fournier v. Dep't of Corr., 2009 ME 112, ¶ 2, 983 A.2d 403. If the petition is not timely filed the court lacks jurisdiction and must dismiss the petition. Mutty v. Dep't of Corr., 2017 ME 7, ¶ 8, 153 A.3d 775; M.R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). The thirty-day time limit "must be applied uniformly and consistently" regardless of whether parties are represented by counsel or not. Fournier, 2009 ME 112, ¶ 2, 983 A.2d 403. Therefore, a party seeking review of final agency action must, within thirty days after receiving notice of an adverse decision, "properly complete and file" with the Superior Court: (1) the petition for review; (2) a complete summary sheet; and (3) the filing fee.[2] Id. ¶ 6.

         Here, Petitioner's first filing was incomplete because she did not include a Summary Sheet as required by Maine Rule of Civil Procedure 5(h)(1). A Summary Sheet was not provided to the court until October 12, 2018, when the Petitioner refiled. As the MUIC issued its adverse decision to the Petitioner on August 8, 2018, this is well beyond the thirty day time limit mandated by statute and reinforced by case law.[3]

         The Petitioner argues that no party is harmed by the late filing as they were noticed, and the refiling should be considered a "minor procedural irregularity." The court is unconvinced by Petitioner's argument. Regardless of harm to any party, a complete lack of jurisdiction is not a "minor procedural irregularity.[4]

         CONCLUSION

         Because the Petitioner did not completely and correctly file her petition with the court within thirty days of receiving the adverse agency decision, it was not timely filed and this court lacks jurisdiction.

         The entry is:

         Respondents' Motion to Dismiss with ...


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