The Court of Appeals recently revisited and affirmed prior case law holding that the deadline to request entry of Specific Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order (a prerequisite to any appeal) is jurisdictional, and the failure to request specific findings within the deadline divests the appellate courts of jurisdiction to review the Summary Order entered by the Administrative Law Judge. Moran-Butler v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, 11CA1309 (October 18, 2012) (not selected for official publication). In Moran-Butler, the Administrative Law Judge entered a Summary Order denying certain benefits, and included the statutory language that any party must request Specific Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order within seven working days, pursuant to § 8-43-215(1). Claimant’s attorney filed a motion for extension of time to request specific findings, and filed the request for specific findings on the first business day after the seven-day statutory deadline. The Administrative Law Judge denied the request for extension of time to request specific findings, holding that the deadline for requesting specific findings of fact and conclusions of law is jurisdictional, and that claimant’s failure to request specific findings in a timely manner deprived the Administrative Law Judge of jurisdiction to issue specific findings of fact and conclusions of law. Claimant appealed to Industrial Claim Appeals Office, which affirmed the Administrative Law Judge’s denial of an extension of time to request specific findings.
Claimant appealed to the Court of Appeals, arguing that the prior case law holding that the deadline for requesting specific findings is jurisdictional is no longer applicable because of subsequent amendments to § 8-43-2015(1). The Court of Appeals summarily dismissed the argument. Claimant also argued that the deadline could not be jurisdiction because § 8-43-207(1)(i) permits an Administrative Law Judge to grant “reasonable extensions of time for the taking of any action contained in [Article 43 of the Act]” for good cause. The Court of Appeals reasoned that the “ general ‘good cause’ exception” is not applicable to jurisdictional deadlines, because jurisdictional deadlines divest the Administrative Law Judge of jurisdiction to review the matter.
While the case does not present new law per se, it does clearly establish that the general good cause exception (or any other exception) will not permit an Administrative Law Judge to extend the time for requesting Specific Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order.