Freeland v. Div. of Emp't Sec., WD84955

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtANTHONY REX GABBERT, JUDGE
PartiesSAMANTHA J. FREELAND, Appellant, v. DIVISION OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, Respondent.
Docket NumberWD84955
Decision Date07 June 2022

SAMANTHA J. FREELAND, Appellant,
v.

DIVISION OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, Respondent.

No. WD84955

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Third Division

June 7, 2022


Appeal from Labor and Industrial Relations Commission

Before: Gary D. Witt, Presiding Judge, Anthony Rex Gabbert, Judge, W. Douglas Thomson, Judge

ANTHONY REX GABBERT, JUDGE

Samantha Freeland[1] ("Appellant") appeals the decision of the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission denying her unemployment benefits. She presents one point on appeal[2]arguing that she left her employment for good cause. The appeal is dismissed.

Analysis

"Rule 84.04 sets forth the minimum requirements for appellate briefing." Murphree v. Lakeshore Estates, LLC, 636 S.W.3d 622, 623 (Mo. App. E.D. 2021). "Compliance with those

1

requirements is mandatory." Id. "An appellant must adhere to the rules of appellate procedure in order for this Court to review the appeal." Id. at 623-24. "Failure to comply with the rules of appellate procedure is a proper ground for dismissing an appeal." Id. at 624 (internal quotation marks omitted).

"It is with great hesitation that we dismiss an appellant's brief for failure to comply with Rule 84.04." Id. "Our preference is to decide an appeal on the merits where disposition is not hampered by rule violations and the argument is readily understandable." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). "However, when the deficiencies affect our ability to understand and adequately address the claims of error, the brief preserves nothing for review." Id.

"Rule 84.04 is not merely a rule of technicalities." Id. "Instead, it serves several necessary functions." Id. "Importantly, compliance with Rule 84.04 ensures that the opposing party is adequately informed of the precise matters in contention and informs this Court of the issues for review." Id. "This permits this Court to conduct a meaningful review of the issues before it and ensures that opposing positions will have adequate representation, which is essential to our adversary system." Id.

"Perhaps more importantly, an appellant's compliance with Rule 84.04 is necessary to ensure that this Court retains its role as a neutral arbiter." Id. "Deficient briefing runs the risk of forcing this Court to assume the role of advocate by requiring us to sift through the legal record, reconstruct the statement of facts, and craft a legal argument on the appellant's behalf." Id. "This requires this Court to speculate as to the facts and arguments that may have been asserted." Id. "If this Court cannot reach the merits without supplementing the appellant's legal arguments, then nothing has been preserved for review." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

2

Rule 84.04(c) provides that the "statement of facts shall be a fair and concise statement of the facts relevant to the questions presented for determination without argument. All statements of facts shall have specific page references to the relevant portion of the record on appeal…." Appellant's facts section states in its entirety:

On March 19th 2020 I was informed that would be my last day serving due to the pandemic, and due to this pandemic, they would be closing and didn't have a return date, my last day was on March 19th, not March 29th as stated by this board. That is a false statement, but months prior to that I gave them notice that I would be moving to Illinois with my disabled husband so that he could be with his daughter
I left on good terms because months
...

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