This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Commissioner of Economic Security,
Department of Economic Security
File No. 332999
Matthew E. Paquin, 18750 Bagley Avenue, Faribault, MN 55021 (pro se relator)
Kent E. Todd, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner)
Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.
Relator Matthew Paquin contends that the commissioner should be estopped from denying him reemployment insurance benefits, even though his appeal was untimely. Because relator did not reasonably rely on information from an employee of the commissioner who may have given erroneous advice about the need for an appeal, we affirm.
Relator filed for reemployment insurance benefits on June 13, 1999. On August 13, 1999, he was determined ineligible for some benefits paid because he did not attend a reemployment-services workshop. In his notice of ineligibility, he was told he had 30 days to appeal.
Relator claims that he attempted to contact Rod Hehenberger, whom he knew was the adjudicator in this case, to explain that he did not attend the workshop because he had started a new job. Hehenberger was not in the office, and relator spoke with Duane Kanne, an employee at the reemployment office. Relator claims that Kanne told him he did not have to appeal, as he had found a new job, and that he, Kanne, would “call Mr. Hehenberger and straighten the whole situation out.” Relator further claims that when he asked Kanne if he would be charged with an overpayment, Kanne responded that “no, he didn’t think so.”
Relator filed a written appeal on September 20, 1999. A reemployment compensation judge found the appeal untimely and dismissed the matter for lack of jurisdiction. The commissioner’s representative affirmed the judge’s decision and added that principles of equitable estoppel did not extend the appeals deadline because relator’s reliance on Kanne’s statements was not reasonable.
Relator does not dispute that his attempted appeal was untimely, but he suggests that principles of equitable estoppel should apply. Relator expresses his belief that Kanne intentionally led him astray; but there is no error in the commissioner’s representative’s contrary conclusion.
Accepting relator’s version of the events as noted in the record, the commissioner’s representative concluded that relator had no reason to rely on the statement of a person who clearly was not the decision-maker and whose assurances were diminished by the representation only that he would contact the decision-maker and explain the situation to him. Moreover, as the commissioner’s representative observed, relator could not reasonably rely on Kanne’s mere opinion that Kanne “didn’t think” relator would have to pay back the benefits he received.
The elements of equitable estoppel include the requirement that a claimant show reasonable reliance on promises given. Hyrda-Mac, Inc. v. Onan Corp., 450 N.W.2d 913, 919 (Minn. 1990). The commissioner’s representative did not err in concluding that the element of reasonable reliance was not evident in these circumstances. Cf. Stottler v. Meyers Printing Co., 602 N.W.2d 916, 918-19 (Minn. App. 1999) (reliance on order of commissioner’s review representative). Furthermore, where a party is trying to equitably estop a government agency, “affirmative misconduct [on the part of the agency] is required. * * * [S]ome element of fault or wrongful conduct must be shown.” In re: Westling Mfg., Inc., 442 N.W. 2d 328, 332-33 (Minn. App. 1989) (citations omitted).