Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Anthony J. Venneri, Arthur Belotti, Stephen Korol, Leo Campbell, Marion Tucker, Robert Thompson and Raymond Goga v. The County of Allegheny, Leonard C. Staisey, Thomas J. Foerster, William Hunt, M.D. and Eugene Coon, No. 271 July Term, 1971.
Ronald P. Koerner, with him Gatz, Cohen, Segal & Koerner, for appellants.
Thomas H. M. Hough, Special Labor Counsel, with him John J. Hickton, Francis A. Barry, County Solicitor, and Henry W. Ewalt, Labor Counsel, and Assistant County Solicitor, for appellees.
Judges Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr. and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.
[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 518]
This is an appeal filed by Anthony D. Venneri, Arthur Belotti, Stephen Korol, Leo Campbell, Marion
[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 519]
Tucker, Robert Thompson and Raymond Goga (appellants) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County dated December 7, 1972, in effect dismissing the appellants' complaint in mandamus against the County of Allegheny, Leonard C. Staisey, Thomas J. Foerster, William R. Hunt, M.D. and Eugene Coon (appellees).
This case had its genesis on January 20, 1971, when appellants, all being duly appointed deputy sheriffs of the County of Allegheny, notified the appellees in writing of their desire to engage in collective bargaining under the Act of June 24, 1968, P.L. 237, No. 111, 43 P.S. § 217.1 et seq. (hereinafter referred to as Act 111). The appellees refused to so bargain, and on March 19, 1971, the appellants notified the appellees of their intention to file for compulsory and binding arbitration under Act 111. Thereafter, on April 12, 1971, appellants filed a complaint in mandamus seeking a judgment which would command the appellees to appoint an arbiter in compliance with Section 4 of Act 111, 43 P.S. § 217.4. One of the appellees, namely the Sheriff, filed an answer, in effect, admitting that his deputy sheriffs were policemen within the meaning of Act 111. The remaining appellees filed preliminary objections denying that the appellants were policemen within the terms of that act.
After hearing oral argument, a judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County rendered an opinion and order wherein the court took judicial notice that the appellants were policemen and granted summary judgment ordering the appellees to binding arbitration under Act 111. Upon appeal to this Court, we vacated that order and remanded the case back to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County for the development of an evidentiary record. See Venneri v. County of Allegheny, 5 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 105, 289 A.2d 523 (1972).
[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 520]
Thereafter the remaining appellees filed an answer, and a full evidentiary hearing was held before a second judge of the court below. Thereafter, a second opinion and order were filed on December 7, 1972, holding that the appellants and all deputy sheriffs of the County of Allegheny were not policemen within the intent and meaning of Act 111. The complaint was dismissed and this appeal was taken.
The sole issue presented on appeal is whether the deputy sheriffs of Allegheny County are "policemen" within the meaning of Act 111.
In an action in mandamus, our scope of review is to determine whether the court below abused its discretion or committed an error of law. Initially, it is of some import to note that this case was remanded to the court below for the specific purpose of making findings with respect to the duties of deputy sheriffs in Allegheny County. Therefore, we need only determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support the court's finding that such deputy sheriffs are not policemen. We are not permitted to substitute our findings for those made by the court below and we may not reverse the lower court unless there is a clear abuse of discretion. See Porter v. Bloomsburg State College, 450 Pa. 375, 301 A.2d 621 (1973); Verratti v. Ridley Township, 416 Pa. 242, 206 A.2d 13 (1965). All parties are in agreement ...