Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division
from the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission
T. QUIGLESS, J
claimant, Rolanda Pearson, appeals from the decision of the
Labor and Industrial Relations Commission finding her
disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation
benefits. Ms. Pearson's employment with employer Keystone
Temporary Assignment Group, Inc., ended in September of 2018,
and she filed for unemployment. The deputy, then the Appeals
Tribunal, and then ultimately the Commission all denied her
claim. Adopting the decision of the Appeals Tribunal as its
own, the Commission unanimously determined that Ms. Pearson
was disqualified because she voluntarily quit work without
good cause attributable to work or the employer. Ms. Pearson
now appeals to this Court, seeking reversal of the
Commission's decision. Because Ms. Pearson failed to
substantially comply with the rules of appellate procedure,
we dismiss the appeal.
Pearson appears on her own behalf, without the assistance of
an attorney. She has the right to do so. Kramer v.
Park-Et Restaurant, Inc., 226 S.W.3d 867, 869 (Mo. App.
E.D. 2007). "We cannot and will not penalize [Ms.
Pearson] for not utilizing the assistance of an attorney; but
likewise, we cannot and will not lend [her] any assistance in
prosecuting her appeal because she is not represented by
counsel." Bishop v. Metro Restoration Servs.,
Inc., 209 S.W.3d 43, 45 (Mo. App. S.D. 2006). "This
is not a matter of our personal preference, but rather the
demands placed upon us by our oaths of office, our commitment
to uphold the rule of law, and the very nature of the
adversarial process, which requires fair, impartial and
disinterested decision makers." Id. "We
would be true to none of these principles if we applied the
law in one manner to litigants represented by counsel and
then in a different manner to litigants that are not
represented by counsel." Id. Accordingly,
pro se appellants such as Ms. Pearson are bound by
the same rules as a party represented by an attorney.
Kramer, 226 S.W.3d at 869. They must comply with the
Supreme Court Rules, including Rule 84.04, which sets out the
requirements for appellate briefs. Thornton v. City of
Kirkwood, 161 S.W.3d 916, 919 (Mo. App. E.D. 2005). We
do not grant pro se appellants preferential
treatment regarding compliance with those rules. Id.
This is not from lack of sympathy, but rather is necessitated
by the requirement of judicial impartiality, judicial
economy, and fairness to all parties. Id.
84.04 requires an appellant's brief to have the
following: (1) a detailed table of contents with page
references and a table of cases and other authorities; (2) a
jurisdictional statement; (3) a fair and concise statement of
the facts; (4) a point relied on that identifies the ruling
challenged, sets forth concisely the legal reasons for the
claim of error, explains why the reasons support a finding of
error, and is followed by a list of legal authorities upon
which the appellant relies; (5) an argument section that
discusses the point relied on and contains, in part, the
standard of review; and (6) a short conclusion. Rule
84.04(a)-(e); Kramer, 226 S.W.3d at 869.
Additionally, all statements of fact and argument must have
specific page references to the relevant portion of the
record on appeal. Rules 84.04(c) and (e).
with the briefing requirements under Rule 84.04 is mandatory.
Kramer, 226 S.W.3d at 870. This is to ensure that
appellate courts do not become advocates by speculating on
facts and arguments that have not been asserted. Brown v.
Ameristar Casino Kansas City, Inc., 211 S.W.3d 145, 147
(Mo. App. W.D. 2007). Compliance with the rule also provides
the appellate court with a more complete understanding of the
relevant issues and allows the opposing party to develop
counter arguments. Lueker v. Missouri W. State
Univ., 241 S.W.3d 865, 867 (Mo. App. W.D. 2008).
Perfection is not required, but an appellant must
substantially comply with the rules. Id. Failure to
substantially comply with Rule 84.04 preserves nothing for
review and is a proper ground for dismissing an appeal.
Brown, 211 S.W.3d at 147-48; Rule 84.13 (mandating
that allegations of error not properly briefed shall not be
considered in any civil appeal). Ms. Pearson failed to comply
with Rule 84.04 in almost every respect. Most critically, her
fact statement, point relied on, and argument are all
84.04(c) requires a fair and concise statement of facts
"relevant to the question presented for determination
without argument." "The primary purpose of the
statement of facts is to set forth an immediate, accurate,
complete and unbiased understanding of the facts of the
case." Rice v. State, Dept. of Social Servs.,
971 S.W.2d 840, 842 (Mo. App. E.D. 1998). Ms. Pearson's
fact statement fails this essential purpose. Ms.
Pearson's recitation of the facts consists of eight
numbered paragraphs that are mostly procedural-related. The
numbered paragraphs presume an understanding of the
background and context of the case and of the parties.
Standing alone they do not provide an immediate, accurate, or
complete understanding of the facts of the case. Ms. Pearson
fails to provide even a basic understanding of the case. An
appellant must include facts relevant to the issues to be
determined by this Court. Kent v. Charlie Chicken, II,
Inc., 972 S.W.2d 513, 515 (Mo. App. E.D. 1998). Ms.
Pearson omitted many, if not all of the relevant facts needed
for review of this case. Most notably, Ms. Pearson did not
inform us of the most basic of facts - the Commission's
ruling that she had voluntarily quit without good cause.
"Failure to include, in the statement of facts, the
facts upon which an appellant's claim of error is based
fails to preserve the contention for appellate review."
Id. Ms. Pearson's failure to comply with Rule
84.04(c) is a sufficient basis to dismiss this appeal.
Thompson v. Thompson, 786 S.W.2d 891, 892 (Mo. App.
Pearson also failed to comply with Rule 84.04(d), which sets
out the requirements for an appellant's points relied on.
Her point is deficient in form and in
substance. A point must be in substantially the
"The [name of agency] erred in [identify the challenged
ruling or action], because [state the legal reasons for the
claim of reversible error, including the reference to the
applicable statute authorizing review], in that [explain why,
in the context of the case, the legal reasons support the
claim of reversible error]."
Rule 84.04(d)(2)(c). Ms. Pearson did not conform to this
"virtual roadmap" in drafting her point, which
The Labor and Industrial Relations Commission (LIRC)
erroneously affirmed The Appeals Tribunal's decision for
disqualification of claimant for waiting week credit and
unemployment benefits until the claimant has earned wages for
insured work equal to ten time the claimant's WBA for a
total of $3, 200.00 in wages after 09/07/2018. The LIRC's
decision was contrary to law and the facts found by the LIRC
do not support the ...