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IRENE STEINBERG v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (09/19/79)

decided: September 19, 1979.

IRENE STEINBERG, PLAINTIFF
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE ET AL., DEFENDANTS



Original jurisdiction in case of Irene Steinberg v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Welfare, Youth Development Center, John Koht and Clifford Rogers. Complaint in trespass in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania seeking damages for personal injuries.

COUNSEL

Neal S. Axe, with him Kanter, Bernstein & Slifkin, for plaintiff.

Lance H. Lilien, Deputy Attorney General, with him David Max Baer, Deputy Attorney General, and Edward G. Biester, Jr., Attorney General, for defendants, Department of Public Welfare and Youth Development Center.

Jered L. Hock, with him Metzger, Wickersham, Knauss & Erb, for defendants, Koht and Rogers.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Blatt, DiSalle, Craig and MacPhail. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Concurring and Dissenting Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr. Concurring and Dissenting Opinion by Judge DiSalle.

Author: Blatt

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 106]

This action in trespass by Irene Steinberg (plaintiff) against the Department of Public Welfare and the Youth Development Center (Commonwealth) and Jan Koht and Clifford Rogers (individual defendants) was commenced within our original jurisdiction. We initially dismissed the complaint as to the Commonwealth on the basis of sovereign immunity and, concluding that we lacked jurisdiction over the individual defendants, transferred the case against them

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 107]

    to the appropriate court of common pleas. Steinberg v. Department of Public Welfare, 33 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 140, 380 A.2d 1320 (1977). Our Supreme Court reversed our opinion and remanded the case to us for our consideration of the Commonwealth's liability in light of that Court's decision in Mayle v. Pennsylvania, 479 Pa. 384, 388 A.2d 709 (1978), wherein the judicially developed concept of sovereign immunity in Pennsylvania was abandoned. The case therefore is once again before us on the preliminary objections of the Commonwealth and the individual defendants.

The plaintiff alleges that she was sexually assaulted on the premises by a "student-prisoner" while she was employed at the Youth Development Center at Cornwells Heights. The attack, she avers, was caused by the wanton, reckless, and negligent conduct of the defendants in:

     a. Failing to provide necessary and adequate supervision of the prisoner-student;

     b. Failing to adhere to established procedures and policies for operation of the Center;

     c. Failing to provide adequate and necessary security and protection for ...


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