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MARTIN HAMAY v. COUNTY WASHINGTON (09/25/81)

filed: September 25, 1981.

MARTIN HAMAY, APPELLANT,
v.
COUNTY OF WASHINGTON



No. 687 April Term, 1979, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Civil Division, at No. 135 August Term, 1978 A.D.

COUNSEL

Wray G. Zelt, III, Washington, for appellant.

William C. Porter, County Solicitor, Washington, for appellee.

Price, Brosky and Montgomery, JJ. Price, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Brosky

[ 291 Pa. Super. Page 139]

In August of 1978, appellant, Martin Hamay, brought suit against the appellee, Washington County, for an alleged illegal arrest and confinement of him by Washington County. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Washington County and Hamay now appeals. Hamay contends that his request for a change in venue was improperly denied and that it was error to grant summary judgment to the appellee and, therefore, that he was wrongly denied relief for the alleged wrongful arrest and confinement. Appellant then argues that because of these improprieties and illegal actions by the court, he may sustain an action against appellee for damages. We disagree with the appellant and affirm the order of the trial court.

The trial court in its opinion succinctly stated the facts:

On February 11, 1975, Martin Hamay was ordered to pay the sum of $250.00 per month for the support and maintenance of his wife. The order specified that upon failure to comply with the provisions of the order, a petition for bench warrant would be presented to the court for his arrest and commitment to jail. Martin Hamay signed this order, stating that he fully understood and accepted the conditions, and acknowledged receipt of a copy.

Hamay made the support payments as required until June of 1977, at which time Hamay terminated his employment as a coal miner, because of an alleged heart condition, reducing his income from about $49.00 a day to $100.00 a week sick benefit. Hamay failed to make the support payments as required by the court's order, nor did he petition the court for a reduction of the order.

[ 291 Pa. Super. Page 140]

In October of 1977, Hamay and his wife, both represented by counsel, met with the domestic relations officer at the Courthouse, but the parties were unable to agree on a modification of the outstanding support order. At that time, the domestic relations officer was aware of Hamay's reduced income, but the status of Hamay's claims for accumulated pension benefits from the United Mine Workers Welfare & Retirement Fund and the Social Security Administration were unknown.

In the latter part of November of 1977, the attorney for Mrs. Hamay presented a petition for rehearing to Judge Sweet, alleging that the defendant, Hamay, had ceased making any payments on the support order, contending that he was disabled, and the prosecutrix was informed that he was now receiving social security disability benefits and a miner's pension. Judge Sweet informed the attorney for the prosecutrix that the petition for rehearing was not the right remedy for nonpayment, that a bench warrant should issue if the defendant was in default, where the defendant might prove inability to pay.

At the request of the attorney for the prosecutrix, the domestic relations officer then presented a petition to Judge Sweet, praying that a bench warrant issue, as the defendant had failed to comply with the support order, and on December 5, 1977, the prayer of the petition was granted and a bench warrant was directed to issue. The clerk of courts issued the bench warrant which was ...


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