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Clark v. State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services

Supreme Court of Wyoming

September 1, 2016

BILLY CLARK, Appellant (Petitioner),
v.
STATE OF WYOMING, ex rel., DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE SERVICES, UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE COMMISSION, Appellee (Respondent).

         Appeal from the District Court of Natrona County The Honorable W. Thomas Sullins, Judge

          Representing Appellant/Petitioner: Keith R. Nachbar of Keith R. Nachbar, P.C., Casper, Wyoming.

          Representing Appellee/Respondent: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; John D. Rossetti, Deputy Attorney General; Michael J. Finn, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Charlotte M. Powers, Assistant Attorney General.

          Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.

          KAUTZ, Justice.

         [¶1] Appellant/Petitioner Billy Clark applied for unemployment insurance benefits after he was discharged from his position as a fuel truck driver for Homax Oil Sales, Inc. (Homax). Appellee/Respondent State of Wyoming ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Unemployment Insurance Commission (the Commission) denied his request for benefits on the basis that he was fired for misconduct connected with his work. Mr. Clark filed a petition for judicial review of the Commission's decision, and the district court affirmed.

         [¶2] We, likewise, affirm.

         ISSUES

         [¶3] Two issues must be addressed in this appeal:

I. Can serious and/or repeated negligence qualify as misconduct under Wyoming law?
II. Was the Commission's decision that Mr. Clark committed misconduct connected with his work supported by substantial evidence?

         FACTS

         [¶4] Mr. Clark began work as a fuel truck driver for Homax in Casper and Evansville, Wyoming on July 21, 2014. He delivered fuels to various locations, including Homax's convenience stores, with trucks that were compartmentalized so that different fuels could be hauled in the same load. Once he reached his destination, Mr. Clark was responsible for unloading the fuels into the proper tanks. When Mr. Clark was hired, his supervisor, Michael Dwyer, was aware that Mr. Clark had dispensed the wrong fuel into tanks at his previous job. Mr. Dwyer warned Mr. Clark that "mixing product" was not acceptable and could result in termination from his job. In addition, Homax trained Mr. Clark on the procedure for unloading product to avoid placing the wrong fuel in a tank.

         [¶5] Nevertheless, in August 2014, Mr. Clark mixed premium and regular unleaded gas during a delivery. Homax was still able to sell the fuel, but Mr. Clark was reprimanded for his error. Mr. Dwyer warned him that there would be no further chances if he unloaded fuel into the wrong tank again.

         [¶6] On September 14, 2014, Mr. Clark delivered fuel to one of Homax's convenience stores in Casper. He incorrectly unloaded approximately 8, 500 gallons of fuel, valued at approximately $25, 000, by placing diesel fuel in the unleaded gasoline tank and unleaded gasoline in the diesel fuel tank. When he realized his mistake, he called Mr. Dwyer and shut down the store to prevent customers from putting the wrong fuel in their vehicles. Mr. Dwyer arranged for the tainted fuel to be removed from the tanks at an approximate cost of $1, 000. Mr. Clark continued to work as a fuel truck driver over the next week; ...


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