Section 33, 34
APPEALS, Credibility, Board of Review, De novo fact finding
CITE AS: Chrysler Corp v Graziani, No. 78 813-213 AE, Wayne Circuit Court (September 21, 1978).
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Carmine Graziani
Employer: Chrysler Corp
Docket No: B76 13435 55112
CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: The Board of Review may not summarily discount a Referee's articulated credibility assessments.
FACTS: Claimant voluntarily retired at age 65. He was held eligible for benefits. At the Referee hearing, claimant, through an interpreter, claimed to have sought work, but could remember few specifics of his seeking work activities. At a second hearing, claimant presented a list of 56 locations where he sought work. The Referee found claimant's testimony not consistent and not credible in several respects and held him ineligible. The Board of Review reversed. It concluded that deficiencies in claimant's presentation were entirely due to his difficulty in reading or writing the English language.
DECISION: Referee decision reinstated. Claimant is ineligible.
RATIONALE: The court, after reviewing Section 34 and 35 of the MES Act concluded: "It is difficult to conceptualize what language the legislature could have employed which would more clearly express its intent to confer power upon the Board of Review to make findings of fact independently of the hearing referee ... [T]he manifest intent of the legislature ... [was] to confer independent, de novo fact finding powers upon that Board. These independent and de novo powers must necessarily include the power to assess weight and credibility if they are to have any meaning at all."
In this case, however, the Board erred because: "Where a hearing Referee's decision is founded upon either an evaluation of conflicting testimony of a subjective nature or upon articulated assessments of witness presence, sincerity, or demeanor, the Board of Review, while not bound by the Referee's assessment, must predicate disagreement with that decision upon evidence substantial enough to overcome the weight a reviewing court may ascribe to the Referee's 'unique opportunity' to view the witness."
3, 14, d7:NA