TAX RATE, Successorship, Res judicata, Collateral estoppel, Mailbox Rule
CITE AS: MESC v Park Lane Mgmt, No. 210592 (Mich App September 28, 1999)
Appeal pending: No
Employer: Park Lane Management
Docket No. N/A
COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: The doctrines of res judicata, and collateral estoppel may preclude relitigation of MESC administrative decisions that are adjudicatory in nature. The defendant's failure to timely appeal the MESC determination of successorship rendered that determination res judicata, to any subsequent challenges.
FACTS: Defendant provided information to the MESC, from which the MESC was able to determine that defendant acquired 100% of its predecessor's Michigan assets. The MESC ruled that defendant was subject to the 10% unemployment tax rate. The MESC sent a notice of successorship determination to the defendant, whcih had 30 days to appeal. The defendant failed to timely appeal. Plaintiff sent revised 10% yearly rate notices to defendant's correct address. Defendant's witness denied seeing the notices but admitted that a secretary opened the mail and sent any tax-related documents to a firm that prepared defendant's taxes.
DECISION: Plaintiff was entitled to collect $23,698.02 in disputed unemployment insurance taxes.
RATIONALE: Plaintiff relied on the "mailbox rule" to prove that defendant received the notice of successorship and yearly tax notices. "[P]roper addressing and mailing of a letter creates a [rebuttable] legal presumption it was received." Stacey v Sankovich, 19 Mich App 688 (1969). Plaintiff's regularly conducted business included the mailing of 200,000 rate determinations and payment notices a year. In this matter, although direct proof that the notices were mailed to defendant was impractical due to the large volume of mailing plaintiff generated, "evidence of the settled custom and usage of the sender in the regular and systematic transaction of its business may be sufficient to give rise to a presumption of receipt by the addressee. "Insurance Placements v Utica Mutual Ins, 917 SW2d 592, 595 (1996). Plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to give rise to the common-law presumption that defendant received the mailed notices, which defendant failed to rebut.