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ROBERT MORRISON v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (12/04/79)

decided: December 4, 1979.

ROBERT MORRISON, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE, RESPONDENT



Original jurisdiction in case of Robert Morrison v. Pennsylvania State Police.

COUNSEL

Lawrence J. Neary, with him Mancke & Lightman, for petitioner.

John L. Heaton, Assistant Attorney General, Chief Counsel, with him Timothy I. Mark, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

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

Author: Blatt

[ 47 Pa. Commw. Page 508]

Robert Morrison (petitioner) seeks money damages because of an alleged breach of an employment contract by the Respondent, the Pennsylvania State Police (State Police). He was an active employee of the State Police when he was placed on disability

[ 47 Pa. Commw. Page 509]

    retirement in August of 1968 because of a heart ailment. In November of 1971, he was removed from the disability retirement program due to the apparent termination of his heart condition, and he alleges that, although he immediately sought reinstatement to active employment, he was not returned to active status until March of 1975. Contending that the State Police were contractually obligated to reinstate him immediately upon his application, the petitioner seeks damages in the amount of $72,611.09 representing four years of lost wages.

The case is before us on preliminary objections of the State Police asserting a failure of the petitioner to exhaust his administrative remedies, the bar of the statute of limitations, and a general demurrer. The first preliminary objection contends that this Court may not grant damages arising out of contract except on review of a determination of the Board of Arbitration of Claims, pursuant to the arbitration of claims of 1937*fn1 (Act of 1937), and that the petitioner has failed to exhaust, or even to commence, his administrative remedies before that Board. The petitioner, in his supplemental brief, responds that the contract in question is not governed by the Act of 1937, but falls under the arbitration act of 1927*fn2 (Act of 1927). We believe, however, that both Acts in question as well as the cases interpreting them clearly indicate that the courts serve only an appellate function as they relate to the primary administrative bodies treated in each act. It is unnecessary, therefore, for us to determine which Act governs the contract in question, because the plaintiff has not presented us with a final order or award

[ 47 Pa. Commw. Page 510]

    from the administrative level so as to invoke our appellate jurisdiction under either Act.

Turning to the role of this Court under the Act of 1937, we note Section 4 of that Act which provides:

The Board of Claims shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine all claims against the Commonwealth arising from contracts hereafter entered into with the Commonwealth, where the ...


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