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On March 22, 2011, the Missouri Court of Appeals decided Williams v. Labarge Products, Inc., et al., holding that the filing of a late notice of appeal is not allowed in special statutory proceedings such as unemployment claims.

In Williams, the Claimant, Leslie Williams, filed a claim for unemployment benefits after losing his job with Labarge Products, Inc.  A deputy of the Division of Employment Security awarded Mr. Williams unemployment benefits and Labarge appealed to the Appeals Tribunal.  The Appeals Tribunal affirmed the decision of the deputy and Labarge then sought review with the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission. On September 14, 2010, the Commission issued a decision reversing the Appeals Tribunal and concluding that Mr. Williams was disqualified from receiving benefits because he had been discharged from his work for misconduct connected with his work.  Mr. Williams then appealed to the Missouri Court of Appeals.

On appeal, the Missouri Court of Appeals noted that unemployment cases are solely creatures of statute.  Therefore, the procedures outlined for appeal by statute are mandatory.  Specifically with regard to unemployment benefits, RSMo. § 288.210, governing unemployment benefits, provides that a notice of appeal to the Missouri Court of Appeals is due within twenty (20) days of the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission’s decision becoming final.

Mr. Williams filed his notice of appeal outside the 20 day window.  And in his notice of appeal, Mr. Williams apologized for the delay, but asserted he had not received the Commission’s decision in a timely fashion because his girlfriend was holding his mail “out of act of revenge.”  In its decision, The Court of Appeals made clear that “[w]hile [Mr. Williams] may have had reasons for not filing a timely notice of appeal, the unemployment statutes set forth stringent guidelines for the filing of the notice of appeal and make no provision for filing a late notice of appeal, no matter what the reason.”  The court further noted that the provisions for a special order for late notice of appeal as set forth in Supreme Court Rule 81.07 do not apply to special statutory proceedings, such as unemployment claims.

Given that Mr. Williams filed his notice of appeal out of time, the Missouri Court of Appeals had no choice but to dismiss the appeal.