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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS
D.C. W ATER AND S EWER A UTHORITY AND G ALLAGHER B ASSETT S ERVICES, INC.,
D ISTRICT OF C OLUMBIA D EPARTMENT OF E MPLOYMENT S ERVICES, R ESPONDENT,
L UCILLE W ASHINGTON, INTERVENOR.
On Petition for Review of a Decis ion of the D istrict of Colum bia
Department of Employment Services
(Dir. Dkt. 03-41)
(Submitted January 20, 2004
Decided March 4, 2004)
Dougla s A. Datt was on the brief for petitioners.
Benjam in T. Bosco lo was on the brief for interven or.
Robert J. Spagno letti, Corporation Counsel, and Edward E. Schwab, Acting D eputy
Corpora tion Coun sel, filed a statem ent in lieu of b rief for respon dent.
Before S TEADMAN, R UIZ and W ASHINGTON, Associate Judges.
R UIZ, Associate Judge: Petitioners, D .C. Wate r and Sew er Autho rity and Gallagher
Bassett Services, In c., petition for review of a decision of the director of the District of
Colum bia Departm ent of Em ployment Services (DOE S) dismiss ing as untim ely their
application for review of a disability compensation order awarding permanent partial
disability benefits to cla imant/interv enor, Luc ille Washington. Petitioners contend that the
director’s order was in error because they correctly relied on the date of appeal as stated on
the Errata Order issued by the administrative law judge subsequent to the compensation
Because we agree with petitioners that the director erred in dismissing th eir
applica tion for r eview as untim ely, we reverse and rem and.
On February 12, 2003, Administrative Law Judge Karen R. Calmeise issued a
compensation order awarding claimant sixteen percent permanent partial disability resulting
from injury to her right lower leg. The compensation order included a section on “Appeal
Rights” which stated that any party aggrieved by the order may file an application for review
with the director, an d that such a pplication m ust be filed within thirty days of the order.
Accordingly, the application for review would have b een du e on M arch 14 , 2003. Howeve r,
on March 11, 2003, the administrative law judge issued an Errata Order indicating that the
title page of the February 12, 2003 compensation order erroneously identified the case
number before the Office of Worker’s Compensation. The Errata Order also stated that
“[t]he application for review must be filed w ithin thirty days o f the filing of this er rata,”
making the application for review due on April 10, 2003. Petitioners filed an application for
review on M arch 21 , 2003.
On March 30, 2003, claimant/intervenor filed a motion to dismiss the application for
review as having been filed more than thirty days from the date of the com pensation order.
In their opposition, petitioners noted that they had relied on the adm inistrative law judge’s
subsequent Errata Ord er, which g ave the pa rties until April 1 0, 2003 to file an application
for review. In dismissing the application for review as u ntimely, the director noted that
pursuant to the or iginal co mpen sation o rder, em ployer had un til Marc h 14, 2003 to file an
application for review, and dismissed the application as untimely pursuant to D.C. Code §
32-1522 (b)(2) (2001)1 without addressing petitioners’ reliance on the Errata Order or the
merits of the application for review. Petitioners filed a timely petition for review of the
director’s de cision with th is court.
Petitioners mainta in that th eir appli cation fo r review filed on Marc h 21, 2003 was
timely based on the Errata Order issued by the administrative law judge on March 11, 2003,
which specifically provided that “[t]he application for review must be filed within thirty days
of the filing of this errata,” or April 10, 2003. Although we agree with the director that D.C.
Code § 32-1522 (b)(2) provides that applications for review by the director “shall” be filed
within thirty days of the compensation order, we held in Ploufe v. D istrict of Colum bia Dep’t
of Employment Servs., 497 A.2d 464 (D.C. 1985), that “a prerequisite to invoking this
jurisdictional bar is the age ncy’s ‘oblig ation of givin g notice which was reaso nably
calculated to apprise petitioner of the decision o f the claims deputy an d an opp ortunity to
Section 32 -1522 (b)(2 ) states in pertine nt part that “[t]h e Mayo r is authorized to
establish an administrative procedure for review of compensation orders raising a substantial
question of law or fact. Application for such review shall be made by any party within 30
days fro m the d ate a co mpen sation o rder is file d as pro vided in § 32-1 520.”
contest that decision through an adm inistrative appeal.”’ Id. at 465 (quoting Thomas v.
District of Columbia Dep’t of Employm ent Servs., 490 A.2d 11 62, 1164 (D.C . 1985)). In
Ploufe, a notice ambiguous as to the length of the appeal period was held to be inadequa te
as a matter of law to trigger the operation of the statutory time period within which to file an
intra-agency appea l. See id. at 466. Separate appeal notices by the agency, even though
related to claims under different sections of the District of Columbia Unemployment
Compensation Act, also have been found to be ambiguous as a matter of law where the
claimant reasonab ly could h ave be lieved th e time to appea l had no t run. See Cobo v. District
of Colum bia Dep’t of Employment Servs., 501 A.2d 1278, 1280 (D.C. 1985). Here, the
administrative law judge’s Errata Order issued on March 11, 2003 was not ambiguous nor
confusing, but expres sly gave the parties thirty da ys from th e date of the Errata Order to file
an application for review. Petitioners relied on that order. As a result, petitioners should not
have been forec losed from consideratio n of their app eal. See id. (finding pe tition timely
under t erms o f subse quent n otice).
Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the director and remand for a disposition on
the me rits.