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RANDY R. NONEMAKER v. COUNTY YORK (10/14/81)

decided: October 14, 1981.

RANDY R. NONEMAKER, APPELLANT
v.
COUNTY OF YORK, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of York County in the case of Randy R. Nonemaker v. County of York, No. 78-S-3933.

COUNSEL

Allen H. Smith, for appellant.

Robert J. Brown, Kain, Brown & Roberts, for appellee.

Judges Mencer, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 201]

Randy R. Nonemaker (appellant) has appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of York County which granted summary judgment against him in his action against York County (County). We reverse and remand.

In May of 1979, the appellant filed a complaint in trespass against the County, alleging that he had suffered injuries as a result of several incidents which occurred while he was incarcerated in the York County Prison. In essence, the appellant claimed that he was injured on December 25, 1976, as the result of being pushed by a fellow prisoner. He also claimed that these injuries were aggravated by (1) the failure of prison guards to provide immediate care, (2) mistreatment at the hands of prison guards, and (3) mistreatment by one Roland Williams, who represented himself to be the "county doctor." The complaint alleged

[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 202]

    that the guards and Williams were acting as agents of the County of York when the events in question transpired.

The County filed an answer and new matter which denied that the County was responsible for the employment of personnel at the York County Prison or for the maintenance, safety, and health of persons committed thereto and asserted that the York County Prison Board was fully and exclusively responsible for any injuries which the appellant may have suffered. The County then filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted. The Court held that, as a matter of law, only the York County Prison Board could have been liable for any injuries suffered by the appellant. This holding was in error.

Section 1 of the Act of May 16, 1921, P.L. 579, as amended, 61 P.S. ยง 408, provides, in pertinent part, that

     the persons now holding the following offices, and their successors, in all counties of this Commonwealth of the third, fourth, and fifth classes, shall compose a board, to be known by the name and style of inspectors of the jail or county prisons . . . : in which board, and the officers appointed by it, the safe-keeping, discipline, and employment of prisoners, and the government and management of said institution, shall be exclusively vested. . . .

The board of inspectors is not a municipal corporation*fn1 or a municipal authority,*fn2 but it is an independent body created by statute. Its members serve ex officio ...


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