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SHIRLEY A. FORNEY v. HARRISBURG STATE HOSPITAL (03/17/75)

decided: March 17, 1975.

SHIRLEY A. FORNEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HARRISBURG STATE HOSPITAL, DIRECTOR -- HARRISBURG STATE HOSPITAL, DR. LEBENGOOD, GEORGE MADERA, MISS DAWSON, JANE DOE, HARRISBURG HOSPITAL, DR. SPRIGGS AND DR. GUSTUSON, DEFENDANTS



Original jurisdiction in case of Shirley A. Forney v. Harrisburg State Hospital, Director -- Harrisburg State Hospital, Dr. Lebengood, George Madera, Miss Dawson, Jane Doe, Harrisburg Hospital, Dr. Spriggs and Dr. Gustuson.

COUNSEL

Kent H. Patterson, with him Cleckner and Fearen, for plaintiff.

Barry A. Roth, Assistant Attorney General, with him Israel Packel, Attorney General, for defendant State Hospital.

James K. Thomas, with him Joseph P. Hafer, and Metzger, Hafer, Keefer, Thomas and Wood, for defendant Harrisburg Hospital.

Edward E. Knauss, III, for defendants, Lebengood, Madera and Dawson.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Blatt

[ 18 Pa. Commw. Page 19]

Once again we have before us the issue of sovereign immunity. This time the issue is asserted in preliminary objections to a complaint in trespass brought by Shirley A. Forney against the Harrisburg State Hospital, a hospital of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, along with some of its employees, and also against the Harrisburg Hospital, a private institution, along with some of its employees. The complaint, having been filed originally in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, was transferred to this Court in view of the fact that the Commonwealth was a party.*fn1 The plaintiff claims that she suffered injuries to her face, hands, back, ankle, and feet resulting from having been kicked, having had a door closed on her, and having been burned from scalding water and cigarettes, all while under the defendants' care. She asserts eight counts in tort against the State Hospital and three of its employees, and one count in tort against the private hospital and its employees. Before

[ 18 Pa. Commw. Page 20]

    us now are (1) the preliminary objections of the Commonwealth raising the defense of sovereign immunity as to the allegations against the Harrisburg State Hospital; (2) the new matter raised by the three state hospital employees, insofar as it raises the defense of conditional immunity;*fn2 and (3) the preliminary objections of the Harrisburg Hospital challenging this Court's jurisdiction over an institution which is not an agent of the Commonwealth.

Inasmuch as we have held, in McCoy v. Liquor Control Board, 9 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 107, 305 A.2d 746 (1973), aff'd per curiam Pa. 326 A.2d 396 (1974), that state hospitals are among those state agencies immune from suits in tort under Article I, Section 11 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, see, Biello v. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, 454 Pa. 179, 301 A.2d 849 (1973), we must sustain the Commonwealth's preliminary objections, and the complaint as to the Harrisburg State Hospital must, therefore, be dismissed.

A more difficult question is presented concerning whether or not this Court has continuing jurisdiction over any possible remaining causes of action. Our original jurisdiction is defined to include:

"(1) All civil actions or proceedings against the Commonwealth or any officer thereof, acting in his official capacity. . . ." Section 401(a)(1) Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act of 1970, Act of July 31, 1970, P.L. 673, as amended, ...


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