Bonita I. Johnson, et al., Appellants, vs. Hewlett-Packard Company, a Delaware Corporation Respondent.
This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALSC1-99-1641
David S. Buhl,
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Filed May 2, 2000Reversed Willis, Judge
Department of Economic Security
File No. 139 99
David S. Buhl, 26750 Half Circle Court #19, Wyoming, MN 55092 (pro se relator)
Kent E. Todd, Minnesota Department of Economic Security, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Halbrooks, Judge, and Huspeni, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Pro se relator David S. Buhl appeals the decision of the commissioner's representative finding him ineligible to receive reemployment-insurance benefits. We reverse.FACTS
Buhl established a reemployment-insurance account with the Department of Economic Security, effective January 10, 1999. The department determined that Buhl was disqualified from receiving benefits from January 10 forward on the ground that he voluntarily quit without good reason caused by his employer. A reemployment-insurance judge reversed, and the commissioner's representative affirmed the reversal on June 11, 1999. Buhl's employer did not appeal this finding.
Buhl subsequently called a department regional office seeking payment for all unpaid weeks before his return to work, for a different employer, on April 18. On June 24, 1999, the department determined that Buhl was ineligible for benefits for the period from January 24, 1999, through March 27, 1999, on the ground that he had failed to call the department on the appropriate dates to maintain a continued claim for benefits. Buhl appealed, and a reemployment-insurance judge reversed.
On his own motion, the commissioner's representative ordered review. In August 1999, the commissioner's representative reversed the reemployment-insurance judge, finding that Buhl had failed to call on the appropriate dates and thus was ineligible to receive benefits from January 24, 1999, through March 27, 1999. Buhl appeals by writ of certiorari.
D E C I S I O N
Buhl argues that there is insufficient evidence to support the decision of the commissioner's representative. When reviewing a commissioner's representative's decision, this court must determine if there is "reasonable support in the evidence to sustain the decision." Tuff v. Knitcraft Corp., 526 N.W.2d 50, 51 (Minn. 1995) (quoting Chellson v. Division of Employment and Sec., 214 Minn. 332, 335, 8 N.W.2d 42, 44 (1943)). This court will reverse if the record does not contain evidence that reasonably tends to sustain the commissioner's representative's findings. Lolling v. Midwest Patrol, 545 N.W.2d 372, 377 (Minn. 1996).
A claimant may receive reemployment-insurance benefits when he (1) establishes a reemployment-insurance account, (2) is not disqualified, (3) has met all eligibility requirements, and (4) does not have an outstanding overpayment of benefits. Minn. Stat. § 268.069(a) (1998). In June 1999, the commissioner's representative found that Buhl was not disqualified from receiving benefits. But in the August 1999 decision on appeal here, the commissioner's representative reversed the decision of a reemployment-insurance judge and determined that Buhl was ineligible because he failed to make a continued claim for benefits. See generally Minn. Stat. § 268.085, subd. 1(1) (1998) (requiring claimant to make continued claim for benefits to remain eligible).
The commissioner's representative is not bound by the findings and decision of the reemployment-insurance judge. Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 2(c) (Supp. 1999). But the commissioner's representative may base his findings of fact and decision only on the evidence submitted at the hearing before the reemployment-insurance judge. Id.
Here, the reemployment-insurance judge received Buhl's testimony and three department exhibits. Two of the department's exhibits were letters from Buhl, in which he asserted that he had called on all appropriate dates. The remaining exhibit was the department's determination that Buhl was ineligible to receive benefits.
The commissioner has appended to his brief a number of additional documents that the commissioner concedes were not part of the record before the reemployment-insurance judge. But the record on appeal comprises only the papers, exhibits, and transcripts of the testimony before the reemployment-insurance judge. See Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.01; Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 115.04. And
[i]t is well settled that an appellate court may not base its decision on matters outside the record on appeal, and that matters not produced and received in evidence below may not be considered.
Plowman v. Copeland, Buhl & Co., 261 N.W.2d 581, 583 (Minn. 1977). We therefore cannot consider the documents appended to the commissioner's brief. See Deike v. Gopher Smelting, 413 N.W.2d 590, 592 (Minn. App. 1987); Hanka v. The Hardware, 343 N.W.2d 46, 48 (Minn. App. 1984).
The only item in the record that suggests Buhl did not call on all appropriate dates is the department's determination that he was ineligible. But while reports of department employees made in the regular course of their duties generally are competent evidence of the facts they contain, a departmental determination is specifically excluded from serving as such evidence. Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 1(b) (1998). Nothing in the record contradicts Buhl's testimony and letters in which he claims to have called the department on the dates necessary to continue his eligibility. And the commissioner cites no record evidence that reasonably supports the commissioner's representative's decision.
The purpose of Minnesota's Economic Security Law is "to serve those who are unemployed through no fault of their own." Decker v. City Pages, Inc., 540 N.W.2d 544, 550 (Minn. App. 1995). Buhl has now endured seven reviews of his claim for reemployment-insurance benefits, and the commissioner's representative has previously determined that Buhl is not disqualified and is eligible to receive benefits for his unemployment before January 24 and after March 27. Because the findings of the commissioner's representative on appeal here are not adequately supported by the evidence, we reverse his decision that Buhl is ineligible to receive benefits from January 24, 1999, through March 27, 1999.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
 We note that, effective August 1, 1999, the title "reemployment-insurance judge" has been changed to "reemployment-compensation judge." See Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 1(b) (Supp. 1999).