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WILLIAM J. SLIFER v. DOUGLAS DODGE (08/12/76)

decided: August 12, 1976.

WILLIAM J. SLIFER, RICHARD A. NACE AND GEORGE GIMBAR, APPELLANTS
v.
DOUGLAS DODGE, ET AL., BOROUGH COUNCILMEN AND MAYOR OF BOROUGH OF WILSON, APPELLEES. WILLIAM J. SLIFER, RICHARD A. NACE AND GEORGE GIMBAR, APPELLANTS V. BOROUGH OF WILSON, APPELLEE



Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County in case of William J. Slifer, Richard A. Nace and George Gimbar v. Douglas Dodge et al., No. 20 January Term, 1974; and William J. Slifer, Richard A. Nace and George Gimbar v. Borough of Wilson, No. 24 January Term, 1974.

COUNSEL

Bernard V. O'Hare, with him O'Hare & Heitczman, for appellants.

Louis S. Minotti, Jr., for appellee.

Judges Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 26 Pa. Commw. Page 101]

We affirm the order of the trial court, on the able opinion of Judge Williams of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, which is reproduced below.

"Plaintiffs seek reinstatement as Chief, sergeant and corporal of police, respectively, in Wilson Borough. Their actions in mandamus and an appeal from the adoption of a borough ordinance eliminating their positions were dismissed at the conclusion of plaintiffs' case.

"The pleadings of record are deficient in that plaintiffs failed to file amended complaints in the form agreed upon before the Court in disposing of the defendants' preliminary objections. At the time of the hearing, therefore, in order not to delay plaintiffs' cause, the Court accepted oral amendments to the complaints and plaintiffs agreed to permit a specific denial by the defendant of any alleged lack of good faith on its part in adopting Ordinance No. 503. Rather obviously, this type of loose practice is not condoned.

"Considering plaintiffs' case most favorable to them, it appears that prior to January 14, 1974, the borough police force consisted of six full-time and eleven part-time patrolmen, including the plaintiffs. On that date Borough Council adopted an ordinance abolishing all offices of the police force and created a department consisting of patrolmen only with the Mayor having full supervision of the force.

"No charges were pending against any of the plaintiffs and no hearings were held by Council or by the borough civil service commission concerning the change in their status.

"The Mayor and the President of Borough Council admitted that the purpose of the ordinance eliminating ranks in the department was to demote the plaintiffs and to reorganize the lines of authority directly

[ 26 Pa. Commw. Page 102]

    under the Mayor. There was no evidence relating the ordinance to fiscal economies. Although the Mayor told some of the patrolmen that the positions would be kept open and filled at a later time, no action has been taken to re-establish [sic] ...


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