Civil Litigation Clinic Students Earn Perfect Record in Unemployment Cases

Posted 2018-08-27 2:07pm

Students in Cleveland-Marshall College of Law’s Civil Litigation Clinic (CLC) gain valuable representational skills and learn how to represent people in real cases, win or lose.  However it is satisfying to receive positive results in the cases ─ to build the confidence of the students, and especially for the benefit of the clients. That satisfaction has been a regular occurrence in the Civil Litigation Clinic the past few semesters.

Earlier in August, the appeal time passed for the last of the decisions in the Clinic’s unemployment cases litigated during the school year.  That conclusion finalized victories for the C|M|LAW Clinic in every recent case – four administrative hearings as well as two cases decided by Ohio's Eighth District Court of Appeals.

In the administrative hearings, Clinic students conducted direct and cross examinations and presented closing arguments. In the two appellate cases, Clinic students with Legal Intern Certificates presented oral argument in cases that had been briefed by Clinic students in prior semesters.

The CLC won an appeal in the Eighth District Court of Appeals. In a case argued by Clinic Student Jeff Geisinger (pictured), assisted by Derek Smith, the Court decided that the Clinic’s client, a claimant in the unemployment system, had been wrongfully denied unemployment benefits.

The Decision was the culmination of a long battle. The client’s case was heard by an Unemployment Compensation Review Commission (UCRC) Hearing Officer in a series of three hearings in December, 2014 and January, 2015. The Clinic appealed the unfavorable UCRC decision to the Common Pleas Court, which affirmed.  That decision was then appealed to the Court of Appeals. After briefing, the Court heard oral argument in February.

The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that the claimant had quit for just cause. Relying on one of its own decisions from a few years back – a remarkably similar case the Clinic had won – the Court held that the claimant, in quitting his job due to unethical practices of the employer and its failure to pay him promised commissions, did what a reasonable person would do under the circumstances. Therefore, the quit was for just cause.

The Court, in response to an Application for Reconsideration and En Banc Consideration, revised its opinion slightly, but still ruled in favor of our client. Geisinger’s brief in response to the Application was particularly persuasive.

At an Unemployment Compensation Review Commission (UCRC) hearing, CLC students Philip King and Jzinae Jackson represented a woman who had been terminated by her employer because she was unable to return to work as quickly as the employer wanted after having a baby. The Hearing Officer understood from the client's testimony that she had been promised she could have a longer leave and relied upon that promise. Therefore, the Hearing Officer ruled that she was entitled to unemployment benefits.

Students Brittany Chung and Alexandra Brinkman represented a woman who had been a home health aide until she was terminated from her employment because she missed a shift. The UCRC Hearing Officer found, based on the client’s testimony and that of a witness, the client had called off. Therefore, she was entitled to badly needed unemployment benefits.

Read about additional Civil Litigation Clinic’s cases decided in 2017-18

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