429 P.3d 1230 (Hawaii App. 2018), CAAP-16-0000480, Benedict v. Employees Retirement System
|Citation:||429 P.3d 1230, 143 Hawaii 301|
|Party Name:||Robin J. BENEDICT, Appellant-Appellant, v. EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM, State of Hawaii, Appellee-Appellee|
|Attorney:||Ted H.S. Hong, for Appellant-Appellant. Patricia Ohara, Elmira K.L. Tsang, Brian Aburano, Deputy Attorneys General, Department of the Attorney General, for Appellee-Appellee.|
|Judge Panel:||By: Fujise, Presiding Judge, Leonard and Chan, JJ.|
|Case Date:||November 09, 2018|
|Court:||Court of Appeals of Hawai'i, Intermediate|
This decision has been designated as "Unpublished disposition." in the Pacific Reporter. See HI R RAP RULE 35
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE THIRD CIRCUIT (CIVIL NO. 16-1-0024)
On the briefs:
Ted H.S. Hong, for Appellant-Appellant.
Patricia Ohara, Elmira K.L. Tsang, Brian Aburano, Deputy Attorneys General, Department of the Attorney General, for Appellee-Appellee.
By: Fujise, Presiding Judge, Leonard and Chan, JJ.
Petitioner-Appellant, Robin J. Benedict (Benedict) appeals from the Order Granting Appellees Motion to Dismiss Appeal Filed March 16, 2016 (Order), and the Final Judgment (Judgment) entered against her on May 26, 2016, in the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit (Circuit Court).1
Following Benedicts appeal to the Circuit Court from a denial of her application for service-connected disability retirement benefits with the Employees Retirement System of the State of Hawaii (ERS), the ERS filed a motion to dismiss the appeal as untimely under Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) § 91-14(b) (2012)2 and Hawaii Rules of Civil Procedure (HRCP) Rule 72(b),3 which the Circuit Court granted.
Benedict was employed with the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services from 1989 to 2002 as an Income Maintenance Worker III. On January 3, 1997, Benedict was injured at work when she slipped on a wet floor while trying to maneuver the drawer of a file cabinet in her office. In July 2012, following a number of surgeries and a worsening of her condition, Benedict applied for service-connected disability retirement benefits with the ERS.
Following a contested hearing on April 1, 2015, the Hearing Officer recommended denial of Benedicts application. The Board of Trustees to the ERS (Board) adopted the recommendation as its Proposed Decision on November 23, 2015 (Proposed Decision). Benedict, through counsel, received the Proposed Decision on November 25, 2015.
On January 27, 2016, Benedict filed a notice of appeal to the Circuit Court, "appeal[ing] from the Proposed Decision from the Board of Trustees of the [ERS] ... dated November 23, 2015," and requesting that the Circuit Court reverse the Boards Proposed Decision.
On March 16, 2016, the ERS filed a motion to dismiss Benedicts appeal for lack of jurisdiction because it was untimely under HRS § 91-14(b) and HRCP Rule 72(b). Benedict opposed the motion, arguing that the Proposed Decision was not a "final" decision or order under agency rules and that, even assuming arguendo that the decision was final, equitable tolling, based on the "extraordinary circumstances" of a serious car accident in which Benedict was involved on December 29, 2015, permitted untimely filing.
On April 29, 2016, the Circuit Court heard argument on the motion. On May 26, 2016, the Circuit Court issued the Order, in which it granted the ERSs motion and dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction as untimely. The Circuit Court found that...
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