Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, in case of In the Matter of Thomas P. Harrington, No. 846, March Term, 1971.
Sheldon S. Toll, with him Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, for appellant.
Howard D. Scher, Assistant City Solicitor, with him John Mattioni, Deputy City Solicitor, and Levy Anderson, City Solicitor, for appellee.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
Appellant, a Lieutenant in the Philadelphia Fire Department, was injured in an automobile accident
while driving his car home from work on January 20, 1970. Appellant had been ordered to report to a new fire station assignment on that date. Because appellant had his "running gear"*fn1 at home, he used his car to get to work. This enabled him to transport his "running gear" which he claimed was too bulky to transport by public transportation from his home to his new fire station assignment.
Appellant filed a disability claim with the Fire Commissioner. The Fire Commissioner determined that the disability was not service connected. Appellant appealed this decision to the Philadelphia Civil Service Commission which, after hearing, held that the disability was not service connected. Appellant then appealed to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County which affirmed the decision of the Philadelphia Civil Service Commission on the basis that appellant did not allege any errors within the court's scope of review as set forth in the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter. This was error but, for reasons which follow, does not require a reversal or remand.
The lower court held that its scope of review was limited by the last paragraph of Section 7-201 of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter which states: "Findings and decisions of the Commission and any action taken in conformance therewith as a result thereof shall be final and there shall be no further appeal on the merits, but there may be an appeal to the courts on jurisdictional or procedural grounds." This was reasonable in light of the language of this Court in its opinion in Leroy Staton v. Civil Service Commission of the City of Philadelphia, 1 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 543, 275 A.2d 716 (1971). In that case neither counsel for
the claimant nor the Civil Service Commission suggested that the scope of review should be other than an examination of jurisdiction and of regularity of the proceedings.*fn2 That opinion, therefore, did not discuss the change in the law effected by the Local Agency Law, Act of December 2, 1968, P.L. , No. 353, as amended, 53 P.S. § 11301 et seq. This law was enacted to implement Section 9 of the Judiciary Article of the Constitution of Pennsylvania, adopted in 1968, which states: ". . . and there shall also be a right of appeal from a court of record or from an administrative agency to a court of record or to an appellate court . . .", and as implemented, supersedes the last paragraph of Section 7-201 of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter. Cf. Addison Case, 385 Pa. 48, 122 A.2d 272 (1956), appeal dismissed, 352 U.S. 956, 77 S. Ct. 353, 1 L. Ed. 2d 316 (1957).
Inasmuch as a full and complete record was made before the Civil Service Commission, and appellant's exceptions to the decision of the Philadelphia Civil Service Commission are comprised ...