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Appellate court reverses ALJ in unemployment claim

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The Indiana Court of Appeals held that a company was not obligated to continue employing a driver who lost consciousness behind the wheel, but because he holds no fault for that incident, he is eligible for unemployment benefits.

In Delbert Conklin v. Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and Carter Express, Inc., No. 93A02-1109-EX-864, Delbert Conklin appealed a finding by an administrative law judge that he was ineligible for unemployment benefits. Conklin was a truck driver for Carter Express when on May 24, 2011, he blacked out while driving, veering off the road and damaging the truck and its contents. He awoke in time to avoid hitting trees by the side of the road, and no evidence was presented to explain why he lost consciousness. He has no prior record of a similar event and no evidence suggests he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Carter terminated Conklin, and initially, a claims deputy held Conklin was entitled to unemployment benefits. But Carter appealed, and an ALJ held that Conklin was an “imminent safety hazard” and therefore not entitled to unemployment benefits.  

The COA reversed that decision, holding that Carter was not obligated to continue Conklin’s employment, and the record contains no evidence that the blackout was his fault. Therefore, Conklin did not breach a duty to Carter in the statutory sense and is eligible for unemployment benefits.




 

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