This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).






Carlo Cocci,





City Slick, Inc.,



Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development,



Filed July 29, 2003


Willis, Judge


Department of Employment and Economic Development

File No. 8016 02


Peter B. Knapp, William Mitchell Law Clinic, Susan M. Blodgett (certified student attorney), 875 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN  55105 (for relator)


City Slick, Inc., P.O. Box 2127, Minneapolis, MN  55402-0127 (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, Huspeni, Judge,* and Forsberg, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            By writ of certiorari, relator challenges the decision by the commissioner of economic security[1] denying him unemployment benefits.  Because we conclude that the commissioner did not err, we affirm.


Relator Carlo Cocci was the sole owner of City Slick, Inc., which operated a men’s clothing store from August 1996 to January 2002.  City Slick paid unemployment taxes on wages paid to Cocci during this period.  Cocci closed the store in January 2002 due to declining profits, and he applied for unemployment benefits.  In May 2002, the department of economic security determined that Cocci was disqualified from receiving benefits because he quit his employment without good reason caused by the employer.  This determination was later affirmed by both an unemployment-law judge and a representative of the commissioner of economic security.  Cocci appeals.


Review of a decision of the commissioner of economic security presents a mixed question of law and fact.  Schmidgall v. FilmTec Corp., 644 N.W.2d 801, 804 (Minn. 2002).  This court will overturn the commissioner’s findings of fact only when the evidence in the record does not reasonably tend to support those findings, but this court reviews de novo the commissioner’s legal conclusions.  See McCourtney v. Imprimis Tech., Inc., 465 N.W.2d 721, 724 (Minn. App. 1991).

An employee who quits employment is disqualified from all unemployment benefits.  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1 (2002).  An employee “quits” when the decision to end the employment “was, at the time the employment ended, the employee’s.”  Id., subd. 2(a) (2002).  Here, Cocci does not dispute that the decision to end the employment was his.  Thus, Cocci is disqualified from benefits unless he can establish that he falls under one of the exceptions provided by Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1.  See McDonnell v. Anytime Temps., 349 N.W.2d 339, 341 (Minn. App. 1984).  Cocci argues that he qualifies for the exception provided by Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 1(1), because when he closed the store, he “quit the employment because of a good reason caused by the employer.”

This court was faced with an almost identical set of facts in Erb v. Comm’r of Econ. Sec., 601 N.W.2d 716 (Minn. App. 1999).  There, the relator owned and managed a business that, over time, incurred $300,000 in debt.  Id. at 717.  After the relator sold the business to avoid bankruptcy, she applied for unemployment benefits, and the commissioner determined that she was disqualified.  Id.  On appeal, this court noted that because the relator “was in complete control of her employment circumstances” when she sold her business, the decision to end the employment was, at the time the employment ended, hers.  See id. at 719.  Thus, the relator “quit” within the meaning of the statute and was disqualified from benefits.  See id.  The Erb court then held that the relator’s need “to sell her business in light of the potential for bankruptcy” did not constitute a good reason caused by the employer.  See id.

We see little difference between Erb and the instant case.  Cocci points out that the relator in Erb chose to sell her business to avoid bankruptcy while he closed his store because of general economic conditions.  But this is a distinction without a difference; both the relator in Erb and Cocci voluntarily ended their employment with their businesses.  Cocci also notes that here the commissioner’s representative stated that closing the store “may have been the wisest business course of action” available to Cocci.  We agree, but the same may be said of the relator’s decision in Erb to sell her business.  Cocci further argues that affirming the disqualification would be contrary to public policy, especially because City Slick paid unemployment taxes during the time that he operated the store.  But this court was not persuaded by an identical argument in ErbSee Erb, 601 N.W.2d at 719.  We therefore affirm the decision of the commissioner.


* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.

[1] As of July 1, 2003, the commissioner of economic security is now known as the commissioner of employment and economic development and the Minnesota Department of Economic Security is now known as the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.