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RAYMOND O. COSHEY v. FRANK S. BEAL ET AL. (12/09/76)

decided: December 9, 1976.

RAYMOND O. COSHEY, CHARLES R. KAYLOR AND DOROTHY M. KERCHNER, PLAINTIFFS
v.
FRANK S. BEAL ET AL., DEFENDANTS



Original jurisdiction in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in case of Raymond O. Coshey, Charles R. Kaylor and Dorothy M. Kerchner v. Frank S. Beal, Secretary, Department of Public Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Department of Public Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Claim Settlement Division of the Department of Public Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Michael J. Casario, Executive Director, Westmoreland County Board of Assistance; and the Westmoreland County Board of Assistance, Defendants.

COUNSEL

Gary Robert Fine, with him Alex E. Echard, and Peter P. Cherellia, for plaintiffs.

Jeffrey Cooper, Deputy Attorney General, with him Norman J. Watkins, Deputy Attorney General, J. Justin Blewitt, Deputy Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for defendants.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.

Author: Bowman

[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 441]

Raymond O. Coshey, Charles R. Kaylor and Dorothy M. Kerchner (Plaintiffs) seek by this proceeding in mandamus to compel defendants -- more specifically, the Department of Public Welfare (Department) -- to refund to Plaintiffs monies wrongfully paid to the Department out of delayed lump-sum social security benefits as reimbursement for public assistance previously received.*fn1

It is not disputed by defendants that Plaintiffs are entitled to the funds they seek, and, therefore, the circumstances under which the funds were collected by the Department do not concern us.*fn2 What we are

[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 442]

    concerned with are those events which transpired after Plaintiffs sought refund of their monies. As this case is before us on preliminary objections, we must treat as true all well and clearly pleaded facts. Metropolitan Hospital v. Department of Public Welfare, 21 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 116, 343 A.2d 695 (1975).

Upon learning that such reimbursement was not required of them, Plaintiffs individually contacted the Westmoreland County Board of Assistance (Board) to demand refunds. These demands were refused by the Board which contended that the monies had been transferred to the Claim Settlement Division of the Department. After being contacted by Plaintiffs' counsel in January, February and March of 1974, the Claim Settlement Division replied that it would place "follow up controls" on Plaintiffs' claims while awaiting judicial resolution of two independent cases and, in effect, advised Plaintiffs to wait.

When no action was forthcoming from the Board, Plaintiffs, in mid-January, 1975, appealed to the Board. Hearings in February and April of 1975 culminated in orders dated June 10, 1975, directing the Department to pay back the monies received from Plaintiffs plus interest thereon. No appeals from these adjudications and orders were ever taken by defendants. Unable to secure compliance with the orders of June 10, 1975, despite repeated and varied attempts to do so, Plaintiffs initiated this proceeding in mandamus within our original jurisdiction.*fn3

Defendants take the position, not raised at the hearings below, that only the Board of Finance and Revenue is empowered to entertain Plaintiffs' petition for ...


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