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KENNETH D. BROWN v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (09/24/81)

decided: September 24, 1981.

KENNETH D. BROWN, DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF LYCOMING COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH. APPEAL OF THOMAS HARVEY AND COMMONWEALTH, DEPT. OF HEALTH



No. 81-3-382 and No. 126 E.D. Misc. Docket, 1981, Appeal of the Order of the Commonwealth Court at No. 14 Misc. Dkt. No. 3, dated March 11, 1981.

COUNSEL

James R. Protasio, Asst. Public Defender, for appellant Thomas Harvey.

Reed Hamilton, Chief Counsel, Joan A. Ross, Asst. Counsel, Harrisburg, for appellant Com., Dept. of Health.

Joseph R. Musto, Asst. Dist. Atty., Kenneth D. Brown, Dist. Atty., Robert F. Banks, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee.

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

Author: Roberts

[ 495 Pa. Page 457]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellants Thomas Harvey and Pennsylvania Department of Health appeal from an ex parte order of a single judge of the Commonwealth Court which granted appellee Kenneth D. Brown, District Attorney of Lycoming County, access to information about appellant Harvey otherwise deemed to be confidential pursuant to the Disease Prevention and Control Law of 1955.*fn* The order was entered pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. ยงยง 8721-8725, which permits certain public officials access to confidential information. Because we hold that the claims of appellant Harvey are not ripe for review and that there exists no justiciable controversy between appellant

[ 495 Pa. Page 458]

Department of Health and appellee Brown, we quash the appeals.

I

Appellant Thomas Harvey is charged with attempted rape, statutory rape, corrupting the morals of a minor and indecent assault. Cultures obtained from the alleged victim tested positively for gonorrhea. Appellee believed that appellant Department of Health (Department) had records in its possession which would reveal that appellant Harvey likewise had gonorrhea. When appellee requested that the Department release to him any information contained in its files concerning Harvey, the Department refused, relying on Section 521.15 of the Disease Prevention and Control Law. Section 521.15 provides:

"State and local health authorities may not disclose reports of diseases, any records maintained as a result of any action taken in consequence of such reports, or any other records maintained pursuant to this act or any regulations, to any person who is not a member of the department or of a local board or department of health, except where necessary to carry out the purposes of this act. State and local health authorities may permit the use of data contained in disease reports and other records, maintained pursuant to this act, or any regulation, for research purposes, ...


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