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Marcus Roach Express, LLC v. Director, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Portage

December 31, 2019

MARCUS ROACH EXPRESS, LLC, Appellee,
v.
DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF JOB AND FAMILY SERVICES, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Portage County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2018 CV 00543.

          Melissa R.V. Roubic, (For Appellee).

          Dave Yost, Ohio Attorney General, State Office Tower, and Eric A. Baum, Assistant Attorney General, (For Appellant).

          OPINION

          CYNTHIA WESTCOTT RICE, J.

         {¶1} Appellant, the Director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (the "Director"), appeals the March 27, 2019 decision of the Portage County Court of Common Pleas reversing the decision of the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission ("the Review Commission"), which had affirmed the granting of unemployment benefits for Robert Ferrebee in connection with his separation from his relationship with appellee, Marcus Roach Express LLC ("Marcus Roach").

         {¶2} At issue is whether Mr. Ferrebee was an independent contractor for Marcus Roach, or an employee separated due to a lack of work, thus entitling him to unemployment compensation. The Unemployment Compensation Review Commission found that Mr. Ferrebee was an employee; the trial court reversed, finding he was an independent contractor.

         {¶3} For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the decision of the Portage County Court of Common Pleas.

         {¶4} In June 2017, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services ("ODJFS") first issued a determination denying Mr. Ferrebee's application for benefits, then issued a corrected determination granting his application based on updated remuneration information. ODJFS affirmed the latter determination in a redetermination issued July 14, 2017.

         {¶5} Marcus Roach appealed to the Review Commission, which held a telephone hearing. The hearing officer ultimately affirmed the ODJFS's redetermination on August 15, 2017. Marcus Roach requested a final Review from the Commission Review, which affirmed the decision on October 4, 2017.

         {¶6} Marcus Roach then filed an R.C. 4141.282 administrative appeal in the Portage County Court of Common Pleas and asked the court for a new hearing. In February 2018, the trial court granted the request and remanded the matter. A second hearing was held in May 2018 and the new hearing officer ultimately affirmed the July 14, 2017 redetermination.

         {¶7} Marcus Roach again appealed to the trial court under R.C. 4141.282, arguing, as it had before, that (1) finding that Mr. Ferrebee was an employee, not an independent contractor, was not supported by substantial evidence; (2) Mr. Ferrebee's application was void because he submitted forged documents to ODJFS; and (3) even if Mr. Ferrebee were an employee, he was separated from work for just cause, thus warranting denial of his application.

         {¶8} In March 2019, the trial court found that Mr. Ferrebee was an independent contractor and reversed the Review Commission's final decision; it did not address Marcus Roach's fraud and just cause arguments.

         {¶9} The Director now appeals, assigning one error for our review:

         {¶10} The Review Commission twice determined that Mr. Ferrebee did not have the right to control how he performed his work. Those fact determinations are supported by some competent, credible evidence. Further, as a matter of law Marcus Roach cannot delegate its direction and control over Mr. Ferrebee to Cardinal. Accordingly, the trial court's judgment should be reversed both ...


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