Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Crime Victim's Compensation Board in case of In Re: Mary Levato, Victim; Peter A. Levato, Claim No. 79-0780-D.
William C. Knapp, for petitioner.
Gregory R. Neuhauser, with him Sally A. Lied and Francis R. Filipi, Deputy Attorneys General, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondent.
Judges Rogers, Craig and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 519]
Mary Levato has filed a petition for review of an order of the Pennsylvania Crime Victim's Compensation Board (board) denying her compensation for the loss of the future support of her husband, a deceased victim of crime. The compensation sought is that provided by the Commonwealth by Section 477 of the Administrative Code of 1929, Act of April 9, 1929, P.L. 177, as amended, added by Section 2 of the Act of July 9, 1976, P.L. 574, as amended, 71 P.S. §§ 180-7 -- 180-7.17 (hereinafter referred to as the Act).
A brief description of the Act is here appropriate. Section 477.1, 71 P.S. § 180-7.1 creates the board and Section 477.2, 71 P.S. § 180-7.2 confers on the board the power to hear and determine claims for compensation and to hold hearings thereon. Section 477.3(a)(3), 71 P.S. § 180-7.3(a)(3) provides that the surviving spouse of a deceased victim shall be eligible for compensation. Section 477.6, 71 P.S. § 180-7.6 provides that a claim shall be assigned to a board member who shall examine the papers filed in support of the claim and make a recommendation regarding the claim; and
[ 73 Pa. Commw. Page 520]
that if the member is unable to make a recommendation on the basis of an investigation and an examination of the claim itself and other records and reports to conduct a hearing to enable him to do so. Section 477.9, 71 P.S. § 180-7.9 concerns awards and pertinently to this case contains the following subsections:
(b) Any award . . . shall be in the amount not exceeding out-of-pocket loss, together with loss of past, present or future earnings or support. . . . (Emphasis added.)
(c) Any award made for loss of earnings or support shall . . . be in an amount equal to the actual loss sustained. . . ."
The petitioner's husband was murdered. In her claim for compensation filed with the board the petitioner disclosed that at the time of her husband's death she was separated from her husband but kept in touch with him and that she was disabled and hoped to get support from her husband "which he said he would with me [sic] go to court to get it." The board member to whom the case was assigned, without conducting a hearing, found, based apparently on investigation and papers filed with him, that the petitioner was estranged from the victim and did not incur a loss of support. He recommended that the petitioner be compensated only for her deceased husband's burial costs. The board, again without a hearing, adopted the recommendation of the reporting member.
In its written argument in support of the refusal to award the petitioner anything on account of loss of future support from her husband, the board first emphasizes the words "actual loss" employed in Section 477.9(c). Its thesis seems to be that because the petitioner was not receiving ...