South Dakota’s Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments this week on eight cases, including one that involves Darcy Bracken who owns a bed and breakfast in Custer County.
The Justices will decide whether or not Bracken should have received unemployment benefits from the CARES Act during the pandemic.
The White Tail Ridge Bed and Breakfast in Hermosa, South Dakota is owned and operated by Darcy Bracken.
Wednesday in front of the Supreme Court her attorney argued that during the start of the pandemic, Bracken, who was self-employed, suffered financially.
“The pandemic upended the lives of countless Americans, it impacted our economy and Congress enacted the CARES Act in order to throw a financial lifeline to people such as Ms. Bracken,” Bracken’s attorney Eric Schulte said.
Bracken applied for unemployment benefits through the CARES Act and was originally awarded over $14 thousand dollars, even though her bed and breakfast had stayed open.
A review by the Labor Department found that Bracken was not eligible for those benefits and was required to repay the money because quote, “she was not considered unemployed.”
“The department isn’t contesting Covid 19 didn’t happen, the department is not contesting that people weren’t impacted by it, but to assume or to make a statement there’s no possible way you weren’t impacted, I think, is improper,” Seth Lopour, who is representing the Department of Labor, said.
But Bracken’s attorney argued the lower court erred because, for a period of time, they had no guests.
“I think there is an error here because Miss Bracken’s business, it’s undisputed, was substantially impacted by the pandemic,” said Schulte.
Attorneys for the Labor Department argued there was no evidence to prove that — it’s based on an assumption.
“In a state where we stayed open and in a state where we advertised our tourism, there is a significant question as to whether or not this bed and breakfast actually was impacted by COVID-19,” Lopour said.
Each side was allowed 15 minutes to make their case. Justices will be making a ruling at a later date.
KELOLAND News will have more coverage of Wednesday’s Supreme Court hearings on our website.
We’ll be following along with the rest of the court’s cases tomorrow with a livestream and live blog on KELOLAND dot com.