My name is Christine Springer. I’m a paralegal and owner/founder of Desert Edge Legal. I am solely responsible for the content in this post. I am not an attorney and I cannot give you legal advice. There is no guarantee that the information in this post will work for your individual situation. Please consult with an attorney if you have questions about your individual situation.
Note: On Friday, December 11, 2020 I am releasing a new digital product that explains how I used the Arizona Notice of Claims statute to get DES to pay me. The ebook is about 25 pages long (I’m still revising it) and includes a template letter guide in Word format so that you can write your own Notice of Claim letter to the State of Arizona.
This digital product will be completely FREE from Friday December 11 – Monday December 14, 2020. I will post the link here on my blog early Friday morning. You will need to opt in to receive the e-mails but you can opt out at any time.
Earlier this year I wrote about how the Arizona Department of Economic Security and the Department of Economic Security were arbitrarily stopping payments to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (“PUA”) and Unemployment Insurance (“UI”) claimants under the guise of fraud. I won’t go into that again, as I’ve already covered it in great detail in that post.
I have personally experienced this situation TWICE in 2020. My PUA benefits were stopped the first time from June 2020 – August 2020 in a statewide fraud investigation, in which I was cleared, and a second time six weeks later, from early October – late November in another purported fraud investigation of PUA claims.
I have had ENOUGH.
The only reason I got paid in November is because I threatened to sue the State of Arizona for unpaid PUA benefits under Arizona’s Notice of Claim Statute.
To my knowledge, no one else has used this statute to make a claim. I first had this idea back in July but was already working a few other angles.
I had been spending a lot of time in a PUA/UI group on Facebook to monitor what claimants were saying in the group. I also read the press releases and of course I was dealing with my own claim.
Some of the other things I tried include contacting Senator Sinema’s office for help. Her office was polite but DES has continued to stonewall her and other elected leaders. It is shocking to me that Senator Sinema sort of slunk away from publicly pressuring DES for more information. I voted for her but I honestly expected more advocacy from her office.
I also filed a consumer complaint with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, which responded by directing me back to DES, which was the source of my problems. I’m not surprised that the consumer complaint route did not work, but you don’t know until you try.
I also contacted the DES ombudsman, who took six weeks to return my e-mail. I got their response on the same day that DES finally paid me after the first suspension. In retrospect, this was pointless too, but you don’t know until you make an attempt.
I read this blog post about the Notice of Claim statute from a couple of Arizona attorneys and found it helpful. I looked up and read the actual Notice of Claim statute and it seemed fairly straightforward to me. However, knowing how the courts frequently change the requirements of a statute, I started doing some legal research.
I found a lot of interesting stuff in the case law research. I’m not going to dig too deep into that in this post, because the point of the letter is to get the State of Arizona to pay legitimate claims and not to file a lawsuit.
It’s still important to write a valid Notice of Claim in case you want to file a lawsuit later on, but that’s not the goal of this strategy. I also don’t want to get too much into filing a lawsuit because I know people are worried about money and I don’t want the fear of hiring a lawyer to stop them from sending their own Notice of Claim.
I’ll just say that there is a valid path through the courts if these Notices of Claim don’t work.
And to be clear, you have to be able to write a good letter and use logic, reason, facts and evidence to be an advocate for yourself. This product isn’t an all-in-one easy solution.
I also had a series of conversations with my friend Linda (she owns the Phoenix Paralegal Group and is also a paralegal). She and I met when we both worked at a big Phoenix law firm downtown after I moved to Phoenix. She probably thought I was nuts in July when I asked her what she thought about suing Arizona for unpaid benefits. However, by the time October rolled around and her payments were also stopped, she brought the subject up to me. I personally felt pretty beat up by the whole situation and I’m just thankful she encouraged me to send the letter.
Between the two of us, we drafted our Notices of Claim letters. Linda continued to work in the law firm setting after I left, and her letter and suggestions were much more detailed than my letter. I’m grateful for that. I was so pissed over my payments being stopped a second time that I don’t know if I would have sent my letter without her help and encouragement.
The good news is that Linda and I both served our Notices of Claim letter by process server on November 9, and both of us got paid on the 18th of November. Linda spoke with someone in Risk Management a few days after. I got a phone call from someone at the Arizona Attorney General’s Office a week after my claim was paid. That person was very helpful and was able to resolve several other issues I still had on my claim.
When I was auditing mortgage loans for people in foreclosure, it was clear to me that there were always two narratives: the public narrative that the bankers wanted to control, and then the real story about what’s going on behind the paperwork they were drafting to steal people’s homes. (Yes, I said steal!)
The bank’s strategy was to drag struggling homeowners through the wringer until they got a solid attorney, who pushed back on the bank, who was usually very keen on offering a real loan modification. Unfortunately, this was difficult for struggling homeowners and they knew it, so they were able to get away with their theft of people’s homes.
I am not saying that fraud isn’t a problem. I am saying that I think it’s a cover up to keep the public from demanding accountability. It is their own mishandling of the program that is holding up thousands of claims.
Also, while I have no proof of this, I think this is frankly just part of an old agenda of suppression. Arizona has long had corporate welfare for corporations and their rich owners/shareholders while everyone else gets “rugged individualism.”
They just can’t come out and admit that they don’t want to pay you, so they stop your payments for some inexplicable reason, stonewall elected leaders and tell their representatives to tell you that there’s nothing you can do but wait. You’re broke, after all. What are you going to do?
Meanwhile, Arizonans are struggling to keep a roof over their head in a pandemic, losing cars, storage units and their homes and no one cares.
As I said, I have had enough. I am personally ready to get off PUA and I want to be able to help people for free or low cost, and so this product is a way for me to begin again.