Appeal from the Order of the Board of Claims, Department of Transportation, in the case of Raymond Riggs, Jr., J. Ribinsky, P. O'Connor and J. A. Hayes v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Docket No. FC-44-79.
Jonathan K. Walters, Kirschner, Walters & Willig, for petitioners.
Paul A. Logan, Assistant Attorney General, with him, Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Attorney General, for respondent.
Judges Blatt, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 55 Pa. Commw. Page 527]
Raymond Riggs, Jr., Patrick H. O'Connor, John Kubinsky, and J. A. Hayes (Petitioners) have filed this appeal from an order of the Board of Claims dismissing Petitioners' claim against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation (DOT).
Petitioners are employed by DOT as auto mechanics. As a condition of employment, each mechanic is required to maintain a full and complete set of mechanic's tools. These tools are very heavy and are stored at the garage, in individual locked boxes, after working hours and on weekends. On October 7, 1978, the garage was broken into and Petitioners' tools were taken. The tools were quite valuable and the aggregate loss to Petitioners was approximately $10,000.
Petitioners sought reimbursement for their loss from DOT pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement between DOT and the union that represents Petitioners. DOT denied liability and a grievance procedure was commenced, which proceeded to arbitration.
[ 55 Pa. Commw. Page 528]
The arbitrator found that the collective bargaining agreement imposed no duty on DOT to pay for the stolen tools. Indeed, DOT had specifically refused to accept such a provision during the latest contract negotiations with the union. Therefore, Petitioners' grievance was denied. Apparently no appeal has been taken from the arbitrator's decision.
Petitioners sent a letter, dated April 20, 1979, which they characterized as a "fiscal claim," to the Board of Claims (Board). This letter alleged a bailor-bailee relationship between Petitioners and DOT as to the stolen tools and sought recovery on that basis.
In spite of the complete failure by Petitioners to follow the mandates of Section 6 of the Act of May 20, 1937, P.L. 728, as amended, 72 P.S. § 4651-6 (Act),*fn1 the Board filed an opinion on the merits of the claim, and an order dismissing the claim, on July 17, 1979. The Board did not conduct a hearing on this claim.
Several issues have been presented for our review, but since we find that a hearing was required in this case, we will ...