This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Joseph B. King,
Metropolitan Airports Commission,
Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development,
Filed January 13, 2004
Department of Employment and Economic Development
File Nos. 5544 03 / 5545 03
Joseph B. King, 8680 Cedar Avenue South, Apt. 112, Bloomington, MN 55425-2033 (pro se relator)
Metropolitan Airports Commission, c/o Employers Unity, Inc., P.O. Box 749000, Arvada, CO 80006-9000 (respondent)
Lee B. Nelson, M. Kate Chaffee, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, 390 Robert Street North, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent Commissioner)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.
Pro se relator Joseph B. King challenges decisions by respondent Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development dismissing as untimely his two appeals from initial department determinations. Relator claims that he timely faxed an appeal letter, which the department never received, and that by the time he faxed what he considered a “duplicate” appeal, the 30-day time period had expired. See Minn. Stat. § 268.101, subds. 2(e), 3(d) (2002) (providing that determination of disqualification or ineligibility “shall be final unless an appeal is filed . . . within 30 calendar days after mailing”). Because the record reasonably supports the decisions of the commissioner’s representative that King’s appeals were untimely, we affirm the dismissals for lack of jurisdiction.
The decision of the commissioner’s representative to dismiss an appeal as untimely is reviewed as a question of law. Stottler v. Meyers Printing Co., 602 N.W.2d 916, 918 (Minn. App. 1999). The timeliness of an appeal is a jurisdictional issue, and “[j]urisdiction is a question of law that we review de novo.” Harms v. Oak Meadows, 619 N.W.2d 201, 202 (Minn. 2000).
Here, King was required to appeal the initial determinations of disqualification and ineligibility within 30 calendar days after February 28, 2003, the date that these determinations were mailed to King’s home address by the department. See Minn. Stat. § 268.101, subds. 2(e) (“determination of disqualification . . . shall be final unless an appeal is filed . . . within 30 calendar days after mailing”), 3(d) (2002) (“determination . . . of ineligibility shall be final unless an appeal is filed . . . within 30 calendar days after mailing”). This limitations period begins to run on the date of mailing by the department, regardless of when or whether the mailing is actually received by the applicant. Smith v. Masterson Personnel, Inc., 483 N.W.2d 111, 112 (Minn. App. 1992). An appeal that is submitted by fax is not considered filed until it is received by the department. Minn. Stat. § 268.035, subd. 17 (2002).
King claims that he faxed an appeal letter to the St. Cloud office on March 19. But the commissioner’s representative found that the department never received this first appeal letter and that the department did not receive King’s “duplicate” appeal, which was also faxed, until April 2. We review the findings of the commissioner’s representative “in the light most favorable to the decision, and if there is evidence reasonably tending to sustain [those findings], they will not be disturbed.” White v. Metro. Med. Ctr., 332 N.W.2d 25, 26 (Minn. 1983). Because the evidence reasonably supports the finding that the department did not receive King’s faxed appeal until April 2, 2003, which was 33 days after the mailing of the initial determinations, we must affirm the decisions of the commissioner’s representative that King’s appeals were untimely.
We recognize that this case presents a number of “mitigating” circumstances, including (1) King’s hospitalization for depression, anxiety, and chemical dependency during the time period in question; (2) when King returned home on March 12, there were several unopened letters from the department; (3) one of those letters, dated February 12, requested that he complete a medical questionnaire and return it to the St. Cloud office within 10 days or risk an adverse decision; (4) the other two letters, dated February 28, notified him that he was disqualified and ineligible from receiving benefits; (5) King claimed that on March 19, his wife faxed the three-page completed medical questionnaire to the St. Cloud office, along with a one-page appeal letter; and (6) by the time King discovered that the department had not received his appeal letter and, on April 2, 2003, faxed what he claimed was a “duplicate” letter, the 30-day time period had run.
Untimely appeals must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, regardless of any alleged mitigating circumstances or inequities. Kenzie v. Dalco Corp., 309 Minn. 495, 497, 245 N.W.2d 207, 208 (1976); Johnson v. Metro. Med. Ctr., 395 N.W.2d 380, 382 (Minn. App. 1986). Even in cases where due process issues are raised or where a party misses an appeal period because of a hospitalization for chemical dependency treatment, this court has held that it lacks jurisdiction to consider an appeal. See, e.g., Andstrom v. Willmar Reg’l Treatment Ctr., 512 N.W.2d 117, 118 (Minn. App. 1994); Baldinger Baking Co. v. Stepan, 354 N.W.2d 569, 570-71 (Minn. App. 1984), review denied (Minn. Dec. 20, 1984); Cole v. Holiday Inns, Inc., 347 N.W.2d 72, 73 (Minn. App. 1984). Finally, we note that Minnesota law prohibits us from allowing unemployment benefits under equitable or common law. Minn. Stat. § 268.069, subd. 3 (2002) (“There shall be no equitable or common law denial or allowance of unemployment benefits.”).
We therefore affirm the decision of the commissioner’s representative dismissing King’s appeals as untimely.