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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. GAIL L. MILLER (10/21/83)

decided: October 21, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, MILLERSVILLE STATE COLLEGE, PETITIONERS
v.
GAIL L. MILLER, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Board of Claims in the case of Gail L. Miller v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Education, Millersville State College, No. 753.

COUNSEL

Julie B. Broido, with her Wayne M. Richardson, Regional Legal Counsel, for petitioners.

James R. Leonard, Jr., for respondent.

Judges Rogers, MacPhail and Barry, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 78 Pa. Commw. Page 2]

The Commonwealth Department of Education, Millersville State University (Millersville) has appealed two orders of the Board of Claims (Board), the first, that Millersville pay Gail Miller $516.01 damages for breach of an employment contract and the second rejecting Millersville's claim for restitution in the amount of $814.10.

Ms. Miller, a registered clinical dietician, received a letter written by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs of Millersville, stating the following:

I am pleased to offer you a temporary appointment for the 1980 fall semester only as an adjunct instructor of Biology on a one-third time basis to team-teach a course in nutrition and dietetics to the nursing students of St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing. The compensation for this assignment will be $2,139.47.

Ms. Miller accepted the offer and performed the duties described in the letter. Millersville had paid her $1,623.46 by the time she had finished the work. It refused to pay the balance, claiming that it had made a mistake in calculating the amount of the compensation offered. Millersville also made demand for $814.10, the difference between the amount Ms. Miller

[ 78 Pa. Commw. Page 3]

    had been paid and the amount Millersville claimed that she should have been offered had no mistake been made.

The Board concluded that assuming a mistake was made it was unilateral to Millersville and that Ms. Miller "had no reason to be aware, and, in fact, was not aware" of the mistake. The law of Pennsylvania is that if a mistake is not mutual, but unilateral, and is not due to the fault of the party not mistaken, but to the negligence of the one who acted under the mistake, it affords no basis for relief, unless the party not mistaken has good reason to know of the unilateral mistake. McFadden v. American Oil Co., 215 Pa. Superior Ct. 44, 257 A.2d 283 (1969).

We must affirm the order of the Board unless it is not in accordance with the law or unless the findings of fact are not supported by substantial evidence. Department of Transportation v. Westmoreland Engineering ...


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