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WALTER W. CALLAHAN v. PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE (07/08/81)

decided: July 8, 1981.

WALTER W. CALLAHAN, APPELLANT
v.
PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE



No. 388 January Term, 1979, Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court, Dated January 10, 1979, Docketed to No. 377 C.D. 1978, Quashing the Petition for Review.

COUNSEL

Gary M. Lightman, Lawrence J. Neary, Harrisburg, for appellant.

John L. Heaton, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.

Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ. O'Brien, C. J., and Wilkinson, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision in this case.

Author: Nix

[ 494 Pa. Page 463]

OPINION

Appellant Callahan was a member of the Pennsylvania State Police and was classified "temporarily disabled" under the Heart and Lung Act*fn1 which entitled him to his full salary as long as he remained in that status. The State Police Medical Officer and an official in the State Workmen's Insurance Fund unilaterally determined that his disability was no longer temporary but permanent and that he was not entitled to the Heart and Lung benefits. On January 5, 1978 Mr. Callahan received a letter from the Bureau of Personnel of the Pennsylvania State Police informing him that as of February 22, 1978 all benefits which he had been receiving under provisions of the "Heart and Lung Act" would be terminated. 53 P.S. § 637 (Supp. 1981-82).

Appellant immediately requested a hearing. Without being afforded the requested hearing, his benefits were terminated on February 22, 1978. On March 3, 1978, he filed a "petition for review" in the Commonwealth Court. On appellee's motion, the Commonwealth Court quashed the petition as untimely. Subsequently allocatur was granted and this appeal followed.

[ 494 Pa. Page 464]

The Commonwealth Court held that the letter of January 5, 1978 informing appellant that his disability status would be changed from temporary to permanent was an adjudication pursuant to 71 P.S. § 1710.2(a)*fn2 because it announced a final determination of his property rights. The court reasoned that whether the petition for review invoked its original or its appellate jurisdiction, the result would be the same. It held that because the letter was an adjudication and therefore invoked the court's appellate jurisdiction, an appeal was required within 30 days. Since the appeal was filed more than 30 days after January 5, 1978, the Commonwealth Court entered an order quashing it as untimely.

The court further concluded that if the action instituted by appellant was to be construed as an invocation of its original jurisdiction then that action would be barred because of the availability of the appeal from the adjudication. Thus original jurisdiction would be precluded because of the failure of appellant to proceed through the administrative process.

The key to the Commonwealth Court's holding was its judgment that the letter of January 5, 1978 constituted an adjudication. Appellant argues that the Commonwealth Court's ruling that the letter was an adjudication offends the requirements of procedural due process. Appellant's position is obviously correct but, in addition thereto, it is also clear that the letter in ...


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