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NORTHERN PENNSYLVANIA LEGAL SERVICES v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/29/83)

decided: March 29, 1983.

NORTHERN PENNSYLVANIA LEGAL SERVICES, INC., PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in the case of Appeal of: Leopoldo Fernandez, dated August 24, 1981.

COUNSEL

Robert J. Farnell, with him J. Palmer Lockard and Ira Mark Goldberg, for petitioner.

Jean E. Graybill, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Rogers, Blatt and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 175]

The petitioner Northern Pennsylvania Legal Services, Inc., (Legal Services), a nonprofit corporate provider of legal services, seeks review of an order of the Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Public Welfare (Department) reversing, without accompanying opinion, the decisions of a hearing examiner and of the Department's Office of Hearings and Appeals in the matter of the appeal of Mr. Leopoldo Fernandez from the denial or "termination" of Mr. Fernandez' application for legal assistance. The facts giving rise to Mr. Fernandez' request for legal aid were adduced by his testimony before the examiner and are that sometime in 1978 Mr. Fernandez contracted for the repair of a concrete sidewalk adjacent to his dwelling; that these repairs were undertaken by another person pursuant to a written contract but were, in the opinion of Mr. Fernandez, unsatisfactorily concluded; that Mr. Fernandez, represented by legal counsel privately retained, then pursued a civil cause of action against the contractor before a local district justice; and that this cause was denied in favor of the contractor defendant.

Thereafter, Mr. Fernandez failed to appeal from the decision of the district justice; but more than a year later, he made application to Legal Services requesting

[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 176]

    that Attorney Ira Goldberg of that office undertake an appeal on his behalf. Attorney Goldberg advised Mr. Fernandez that an appeal would be untimely and, therefore, that Legal Services could not provide the assistance requested. One week later, on May 21, 1981, Legal Services sent written notification to Mr. Fernandez which in pertinent part is as follows:

THIS IS TO NOTIFY YOU THAT TITLE XX SERVICES WILL:

[ ] BE REDUCED EFFECTIVE

[x] BE TERMINATED EFFECTIVE 5-31-81

Your services will be terminated because your service goal ...


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