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MRS. RUTH G. EDWARDS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/16/78)

decided: March 16, 1978.

MRS. RUTH G. EDWARDS, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF STATE, COMMISSIONER OF PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL AFFAIRS (STATE BOARD OF FUNERAL DIRECTORS), RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the State Board of Funeral Directors in case of In the Matter of the Issuance of a Widow's License to Mrs. Ruth G. Edwards, dated January 28, 1977.

COUNSEL

B. James Kamage, with him Basil G. Russin, for petitioner.

Louis B. Rubin, Assistant Attorney General, with him Charles L. Ford, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Roger, Blatt and DiSalle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 34 Pa. Commw. Page 250]

Ruth G. Edwards, the widow of Edward T. Edwards who in partnership with Harry S. Russin had conducted a funeral business, has appealed from a decision of the State Board of Funeral Directors disapproving

[ 34 Pa. Commw. Page 251]

    her application for a license which would permit her to engage in the business as a partner of Russin in her late husband's stead.

Edward T. Edwards and Harry S. Russin entered into a partnership agreement to operate a funeral business which contained a provision effective on the death of either that the partnership would dissolve and that the survivor might acquire the decedent's interest by purchase.

Edward T. Edwards died. Mr. Russin chose not to buy the Edwards' interest and instead entered into an arrangement with the widow, Ruth G. Edwards, that she should be admitted to the partnership in her late husband's stead. Mrs. Edwards, with Mr. Russin actively participating in the proceedings, applied for a widow's license as allowed by Section 8 of the Funeral Director Law, Act of January 14, 1952, P.L. (1951) 1898, as amended, 63 P.S. § 479.8. The Board disapproved Mrs. Edwards' application. She asked for and was granted a hearing, after which the Board issued a written decision again refusing the license. Mrs. Edwards has appealed. We conclude that the Board's action was an abuse of its discretion, reverse its order and direct that the license issue.

Section 8(a) of the Funeral Director Law, 63 P.S. § 479.8(a), provides, inter alia, that:

Upon the death of a licensee, the board, in its discretion, may issue a license . . . to . . . widows or widowers of deceased licensees. . . .

Discretion vested in administrative agencies must be exercised soundly. If administrative discretion is exercised arbitrarily or unreasonably, if the law is overridden or misapplied or if the judgment made is manifestly inappropriate, courts will declare that ...


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