Where a calendaring mistake by the defendant-appellant’s counsel led defendant to miss the filing deadline for its appellate brief and led the Workers’ Compensation Commission to dismiss the appeal, the commission was required to consider whether there was good cause to grant defendant’s motion to reinstate its appeal.
We reverse the dismissal of the appeal and remand so the appeal may proceed.
After defendant appealed a ruling of the commission, the commission sent defendant a notice that briefs were due from the appellant on May 12, 2019, and from the respondent 15 days later. The notice did not indicate which party was the appellant or which was the respondent, and defense counsel’s paralegal mistakenly thought defendant was the respondent and calendared that its brief was due on May 27, 2019. The commission dismissed defendant’s appeal for failure to timely file its brief and, without explanation, denied defendant’s motion to reinstate its appeal.
A tribunal cannot strictly enforce due dates but ignore good cause. A reflexive refusal to consider that a calendaring mistake could be good cause is an abuse of discretion.
Further, the commission has been less than consistent in dealing with motions to reinstated dismissed appeals. Administrative agencies may insist upon strict compliance with filing deadlines, but to survive a challenge of arbitrariness, they must act consistently and with a rationale that reflects the appropriate discretionary factors were considered and touched upon.
Reversed and remanded.
Jordan v. Hartford Financial Group, Inc. (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-097-21, 4 pp.) (Garrison Hill, J.) Appealed from the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Stephen Thomas Anderson for appellant; Richard Patton for respondent. S.C. App.