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MICHAEL BALCRIUS v. MAYOR EUGENE HICKEY ET AL. (10/26/81)

decided: October 26, 1981.

MICHAEL BALCRIUS, APPELLANT
v.
MAYOR EUGENE HICKEY ET AL., APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County in the case of Michael Balcrius v. Mayor Eugene Hickey; Director of Public Safety James McDonnell; Commissioners of the Municipal Civil Service Commission Vito Raymond, Samuel L. Bevilacqua and Joseph P. Bour; Councilmen Messrs. Rossi, Dougherty, Melnick, Catalano and Harte, and the City of Scranton, No. 13 September Term, 1978.

COUNSEL

Lawrence A. Durkin, Tellie, Durkin, Weinberger, Murphy & Piazza, for appellant.

James A. Doherty, Jr., with him John J. Brazil, for appellees.

Judges Blatt, Craig and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr. Judge Wilkinson, Jr. did not participate in the decision in this case. Judge Craig concurs in the result only. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Williams

[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 259]

This is an appeal from an Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County dismissing exceptions filed by appellant, Michael Balcrius, to that court's prior opinion, dated December 14, 1979. In its earlier decision, the lower court had denied appellant's prayer for relief and entered judgment in favor of appellee, City of Scranton. We reverse.

In June, 1977, the budgeted position of Captain of the Uniform Division, Grade 9, in the Scranton Police Department became vacant. Thereafter, on October 14, 1977, the Civil Service Commission of the City of Scranton, acting on the request of the then Mayor, Eugene Peters, administered a promotional test to secure a list of eligible candidates to fill the vacant position. Appellant, Michael Balcrius, placed third on the eligibility list and was duly certified as eligible by the Commission. On December 6, 1977, Mayor Peters promoted Balcrius to the vacant post. Balcrius held

[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 260]

    that position until January 6, 1978, when he was notified that he was going to be reinstated to his previous rank of Detective. He received a photocopy of a letter written by the Chief of Police to the Director of Public Safety stating that the position of Captain of the Uniform Division, Grade 9, had been eliminated from the City of Scranton's 1978 proposed budget. Appellant Balcrius then resumed his former post.

On or about January 18, 1978, a City of Scranton Police Captain was demoted, creating a vacancy in the position of Captain, Grade 7. That vacancy was filled in May, 1978, when a policeman other than appellant was promoted to the post by the current Mayor, Eugene Hickey. Mayor Hickey made his appointment from a revised eligibility list supplied by the Civil Service Commission.

On June 19, 1978, Balcrius filed a complaint in mandamus against Mayor Eugene Hickey and the City of Scranton alleging, inter alia, that his promoted position of Captain, Uniform Division, Grade 9, had been improperly deleted from the 1978 City of Scranton Budget and that he had sustained an improper reversion to his prior rank of Detective as a result of this action on January 6, 1978. He alleged further that he was entitled to reinstatement to his promoted position and rank or in the alternative entitled to promotion to the vacant position of Captain, Grade 7. Finally, he asserted that the Defendants (Mayor Hickey and City of Scranton) never afforded him a hearing pursuant to the Local Agency Law*fn1 prior to his reversion in rank.

The matter was scheduled for trial, and on December 14, 1979, the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County rendered a decision in favor of the City of Scranton. That court held that the City of Scranton

[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 261]

    had inherent authority to eliminate appellant's position for economic reasons; that since appellant's appointment was temporary in nature the City had no obligation to place him in a special listing category for the position of Captain, Grade 7; and that the City had conformed with the Local Agency Law in its adjudication of appellant's job rights. Balcrius filed exceptions to the lower court's decision, asserting that the trial judge erred in his disposition of this case. Argument on those exceptions was held in June, 1979. Subsequent thereto, a court en banc, in an opinion written by Judge Munley, dismissed appellant's exceptions and affirmed the order of December 14, 1979. Appellant then filed the instant appeal to this Court.

Appellant contends that the actions of the City of Scranton in reinstating him to his former position were improper and in violation of procedures set ...


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