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Apply legal rules to a clients situation

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Apply legal rules to a clients situation
Using the IRAC briefing method, prepare a brief for the case labeled PA205 Unit 3 Assignment Case.
Remember to includeThe Bluebook citation for the case at the top of the brief. Make sure your brief is on a
MS Word document and submit to the
555 P.2d 696
Supreme Court of New Mexico.
Zelma M. MITCHELL, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
LOVINGTON GOOD SAMARITAN CENTER, INC., Defendant-Appellant.
No. 10847.Oct. 27, 1976.
Appeal was taken from an order of the District Court, Bernalillo County, Richard B. Traub, D.J., reversing a
decision of the Unemployment Security Commission and awarding benefits to discharged employee. The Supreme
Court, Sosa, J., held that employee’s insubordination, improper attire, name calling and other conduct evidencing
wilful disregard of employer’s interests constituted ‘misconduct’ disqualifying her from receiving certain
unemployment benefits.
Reversed.
Attorneys and Law Firms
*576 **697 Heidel, Samberson, Gallini & Williams, Jerry L. Williams, Lovington, for defendant-appellant. Gary
J. Martone, J. Richard Baumgartner, Joseph Goldberg, Albuquerque, for plaintiff-appellee.
OPINION
SOSA, Justice.
This case presents the issue of whether petitioner’s actions constituted misconduct so as to disqualify her from
certain unemployment compensation benefits.
On June 4, 1974, petitioner-appellee Zelma Mitchell was terminated for alleged misconduct from the Lovington
Good Samaritan Center, Inc. On June 12, 1974, Mrs. Mitchell applied for unemployment compensation benefits.
Finding that Mrs. Mitchell’s acts constituted misconduct, a deputy of the Unemployment Security Commission
disqualified Mrs. Mitchell from seven weeks of benefits pursuant to s 59-9-6(B), N.M.S.A.1953. On July 24, 1974,
Mrs. Mitchell filed an appeal. The referee of the Appeal Tribunal reversed the deputy’s decision and reinstated these
benefits to Mrs. Mitchell on August 28, 1974. On September 13, 1974, the Center appealed the decision of the
Appeal Tribunal to the whole Commission pursuant to s 59-9-6(E), N.M.S.A.1953. The Commission overruled the
Appeal Tribunal and reinstated the seven week disqualification period. Mrs. Mitchell then applied for and was
granted certiorari from the decision of the Commission to the District Court of Bernalillo County pursuant to s 59-
96(K), N.M.S.A.1953. On January 16, 1976, the District Court reversed the Commission’s decision and ordered it to
reinstate the benefits to Mrs. Mitchell. From the judgment of the District Court, the Center appeals.

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The issue before us is whether Mrs. Mitchell’s actions constituted misconduct under s 59-9-5(b), N.M.S.A.1953.
Mrs. Mitchell started work at the Center in Lovington on July 4, 1972 as a nurse’s aide. After approximately one
year on the job in addition to her normal duties she also served as a relief medications nurse two days per week. On
June 4, 1974, she was terminated. The testimony concerning the events leading up to her termination that day is
somewhat contradictory but basically is the following. Mrs. Mitchell arrived punctually to work at three p.m. The
director of the Center, Mr. Smith, questioned her about why she was already filling in her time card. Mrs. Mitchell
answered that she filled in eight hours, which she would work that day as long as she did not ‘break a leg or die.’
Mr. Smith replied, ‘Well, I’m not so sure about that.’ Mrs. Mitchell then became defensive and stated that she had
supported him when the Director of Nurses, Mrs. Mary Stroope, sought to have him fired as director. Mrs. Stroope,
in the vicinity, overheard this comment, denied it, and called Mrs. Mitchell a liar. At various times during this
exchange Mrs. Mitchell referred to Mr. Smith, Mrs. Stroope, and others as birdbrains.’ This occurred in a crowded
area where the Center’s employees were checking in and out, so Mr. Smith told both to go into his office. There,
Mrs. Stroope apologized to Mrs. Mitchell for calling her a liar and Mrs. Mitchell apologized for saying that Mrs.
Stroope had circulated a petition to replace Mr. Smith. However, tempers soon flared again and Mr. Smith resolved
to fire Mrs. Mitchell. Mrs. Mitchell then demanded her check. Mr. Smith paid her for that day, a week’s vacation,
and another week’s salary for being terminated, which he was not required to do since Mrs. Mitchell failed to give
him two weeks’ notice.
*577 **698 Appellee Mitchell argues that the events of June 4, 1974, do not constitute misconduct within the
meaning of s 59-9-5(b), supra. Appellant Center argues that these events were the last of a series of acts of
misconduct, and the ‘birdbrain’ incident should be considered the ‘last straw’ resulting in her termination. Mitchell
counters that the prior acts of misconduct should not be considered.
The alleged acts of prior misconduct are the following. On April 2, 1974, Mrs. Mitchell went to work at the Center
out of uniform (she wore gold pants rather than navy blue). On that day the Federal Regulation Inspectors visited the
Center. Mrs. Mitchell stated that she did not know that the federal inspectors would be there that particular day. The
Director of Nurses reprimanded her and told her to go home and to change into the proper attire, which Mrs.
Mitchell refused to do. The following day Mrs. Mitchell again came to work out of uniform but this time she was
directed to go and did go home to change.
On May 24, 1974, Mrs. Mitchell was switched from medications to the floor routine. Angered, Mrs. Mitchell refused
to give medications, even though the charge nurse and Mrs. Stroope explained to her that the reason for the switch
was that she was familiar with both jobs whereas the replacement nurse, Carol Skurlock, was unfamiliar with the
floor routine. Mrs. Mitchell stated that she did not like being replaced by a ‘white’ nurse’s aide (Carol Skurlock).
Mrs. Mitchell considered herself and Carol to be just ‘birdbrain against birdbrain,’ apparently because neither she
nor Carol was a licensed nurse. From May 24 to June 4 Mrs. Mitchell refused to perform her duties as a relief
medications aide.
On May 15, 1974, and other days, Mrs. Mitchell sang while counting medications and was not very co-operative,
which caused Betty Clarke, R.N., to complain that Mrs. Mitchell’s actions were unethical and time-consuming.
The term ‘misconduct’ is not defined in the Unemployment Compensation Law. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in
Boynton Cab Co. v. Neubeck, 237 Wis. 249, 259-60, 296 N.W. 636, 640 (1941) examined the misconduct subsection
of its unemployment compensation act, found no statutory definition of misconduct, and formulated the following
definition:
. . . ‘misconduct’ . . . is limited to conduct evincing such wilful or wanton disregard of an employer’s interests as is
found in deliberate violations or disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect of his
employee, or in carelessness or negligence of such degree or recurrence as to manifest equal culpability, wrongful
intent or evil design or to show an intentional and substantial disregard of the employer’s interests or of the
employee’s duties and obligations to his employer. On the other hand mere inefficiency, unsatisfactory conduct,
failure in good performance as the result of inability or incapacity, inadvertencies or ordinary negligence in isolated
instances, or good faith errors in judgment or discretion are not to be deemed misconduct’ within the meaning of
the statute.
We adopt this definition.

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Applying this definition of misconduct to the facts of the case before us, we hold that Mrs. Mitchell’s acts
constituted misconduct. *578 **699 Mrs. Mitchell’s insubordination, improper attire, name calling, and other
conduct evinced a wilful disregard of the interests of the Center. Although each separate incident may not have been
sufficient in itself to constitute misconduct, taken in totality Mrs. Mitchell’s conduct deviated sufficiently to classify
it as misconduct under the above test. Appellee’s argument that the ‘last straw’ doctrine should not be used is hereby
rejected.
The district court is reversed and the decision of the Commission is reinstated.
McMANUS and EASLEY, JJ., concur.
Answer:
Mitchell v. Lovington Good Samaritan Center. INC., 555 P.2d 696 (N.M. 1976).
Facts:
Mrs. Mitchell (appellee) was terminated on June 4, 1974 from Lovington Good Samaritan
Center, INC. for alleged misconduct. June 12, 1974 Mrs. Mitchell applied for unemployment
compensation benefits where she was denied by the deputy of the Unemplyment Security
Commission;
July 24 1974, Mrs. Mitchell applied for an appeal, where she then received a reinstatement of
benefits on August 28 1974. On September 13 1974 appealed the decision of the Appeal
Tribunal to the whole Commission pursuant to s 59-9-6(E), N.M.S.A..1953. The commission
overruled the Appeal Tribunal an re-instated the seven week disqualification period.
Mrs.Mitchell applied for and was granted ceritiorari from the decision of the Commission to the
District Court of Bernalillo County pursuant to s 59-9-6(K),
N.M.S.A. 1953. January 16, 1976, the District Court reversed the Commission’s decision and
ordered it to reinstate the benefits to Mrs. Mitchell. From the Judgement of the District Court, the

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