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Crean v. Board of Review

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

May 28, 2013

SEAN J. CREAN, Appellant,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, AND WESTINGHOUSE LIGHTING CORPORATION, Respondents.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 14, 2013

On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Docket No. 281, 530.

Sean J. Crean, appellant pro se.

Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent Board of Review (Lewis A. Scheindlin, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Christopher M. Kurek, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Respondent Westinghouse Lighting Corporation has not filed a brief.

Before Judges Reisner and Hayden.

PER CURIAM

Sean J. Crean appeals from an August 16, 2011 final decision of the Board of Review, determining that he was ineligible to receive Extended Unemployment Compensation benefits from the State of New Jersey and holding him liable to refund $15, 184 in benefits that he received for the weeks ending October 3, 2009 through March 27, 2010. We reverse and remand this matter to the Board for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I

Crean asserts that he was caught in a "Catch-22" situation, created by the unemployment benefit agencies of two different states.[1] Crean worked for Westinghouse Lighting Corporation in New Jersey for a number of years before he moved to Georgia. According to Crean, even after he moved out of New Jersey, Westinghouse continued to report his wages as having been earned in New Jersey. As a result, deductions from his pay continued to be transmitted to the New Jersey Unemployment Fund.

Crean was laid off while he was living in Georgia. He applied to the Georgia Department of Labor (Georgia agency) for unemployment benefits, but the Georgia agency denied his claim and told him to apply for benefits in New Jersey. Crean contacted the New Jersey Department of Labor (New Jersey agency) and was likewise told to apply in New Jersey. Accordingly, on March 29, 2009, Crean applied for benefits from the New Jersey agency, which granted his claim and paid him benefits. When those benefits ran out, the New Jersey agency sent Crean a notice dated October 7, 2009, advising him that he was eligible to apply for Extended Unemployment Compensation benefits. Accordingly, Crean applied for and received benefits from the New Jersey agency, from October 3, 2009 through March 27, 2010.

However, on April 22, 2010, the New Jersey agency sent Crean a Demand for Refund of the $15, 184 in benefits that he had already received. Shortly thereafter, Crean received two contradictory notices from the Georgia agency. The first notice, dated April 28, 2010, once again denied his benefit claim, on the basis that he had insufficient earnings attributable to the State of Georgia. The second notice, dated April 30, 2010, showed a revised statement of his alleged Georgia earnings, and granted his benefit claim retroactive to September 27, 2009. However, according to Crean, he did not apply for those benefits, because he was afraid that Georgia, like New Jersey, would then seek to recoup them. There is no evidence in this record that Crean ever actually received any unemployment benefits from the State of Georgia.

The record does not reflect what communication took place between the Georgia and New Jersey agencies, or why they did not simply arrange for Georgia to reimburse New Jersey for Crean's benefits. Instead, holding Crean to a standard of twenty-twenty hindsight, the New Jersey agency demanded that he repay more than $15, 000 in benefits, ...


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