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GEORGE R. CODER v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/18/84)

decided: January 18, 1984.

GEORGE R. CODER, D.C., ET AL., PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, STATE BOARD OF CHIROPRACTIC EXAMINERS, ET AL, RESPONDENTS



Original and appellate jurisdiction in case of George R. Coder, D.C. and The Pennsylvania Chiropractic Society v. State Board of Chiropractic Examiners, Louis Latimer, D.C. et al. and Adio Institute of Straight Chiropractic, Inc. and William Tsoubanos, D.C., and Chiropractic Fellowship of Pennsylvania.

COUNSEL

William A. Loftus, Shrager, McDaid & Loftus, P.C., for petitioner, George R. Coder, D.C.

J. Stephen Feinour, with him W. E. Shissler, Nauman, Smith, Shissler & Hall, for petitioner, Pennsylvania Chiropractic Society.

Mary S. Wyatte, Counsel, with her David F. Phifer, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

John D. Killian, Killian & Gephart, for intervenors, Adio Institute of Straight Chiropractic, Inc. et al.

William J. Hawke, with him Joseph J. Malatesta, Jr., Malatesta & Hawke, for intervenor, Chiropractic Fellowship of Pennsylvania.

Judges Craig, Doyle and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 570]

This proceeding, addressed to our appellate jurisdiction as well as to our original jurisdiction, has been brought by the Pennsylvania Chiropractic Society, representing one faction of the chiropractic profession, and its co-petitioner Dr. Coder. It seeks an order to prevent the respondent State Board of Chiropractic Examiners from continuing in effect fifty-two chiropractic licenses which that board has granted to graduates of the ADIO Institute of Straight Chiropractic, Inc. (ADIO) and to enjoin any further issuance of such licenses to ADIO graduates. The Chiropractic Fellowship of Pennsylvania, representing another faction of the chiropractic profession, has intervened, along with ADIO.

Pursuant to an evidentiary hearing as well as argument, the court denied the requested orders. Before and after this case, there have been numerous other actions involving various issues generated by ADIO and its opponents, including Brady v. State Board of Chiropractic Examiners at No. 921 C.D. 1982 in this court, a companion case in which other ADIO graduates sought an order that they be granted licenses to practice chiropractic, like the fifty-two ADIO graduates involved in this case.

Throughout this case, there has echoed the intensive controversy which exists in the chiropractic profession over two disparate approaches to that healing art: (1) the "straight" chiropractic approach, to which ADIO purports to adhere (along with other schools not in Pennsylvania), in which treatment is confined to the adjustment of spinal subluxations by hand; and (2) the remaining view, colloquially labeled the "mixer" approach, which also involves, in addition, adjunctive treatment and

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 571]

    the use of "modalities," i.e., treatment equipment and devices.

Clearly, the young people graduated from ADIO have become the victims of this dispute among their professional elders. The board, having authorized ADIO to function as a school and thus to receive as income the tuition paid by the young students -- who have also committed years of their lives to study at ADIO -- have granted licensure to some of those students, and those licenses have become the subject of intraprofessional warfare.

The Statute

The major premise of law in this case is stated in the provisions of the Chiropractic Registration Act of 1951, governing the approval of chiropractic schools and colleges, Act of August 10, 1951, P.L. 1182, §§ 124, as amended, 63 P.S. §§ 601-624.

The statute repetitively expresses (1) the board's power and duty as to the approval of chiropractic schools and (2) the requirement that graduation from an approved school (as well as successful completion of specified examinations) is a condition of licensure to practice chiropractic.

Section 3 states:

It shall be the duty of the board to approve and disapprove chiropractic schools and colleges constantly. . . .

The same section empowers the board to establish standards for approval and concludes:

Failure to conform to the standards required by the board after notification shall render the graduates of any school ineligible for licensure within this Commonwealth.

63 P.S. § 603. Section 4 specifies, for approval, a course of not less than 4,000 hours, including laboratory

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 572]

    work, as well as classroom work, in anatomy, histology, bacteriology and other subjects. 63 P.S. § 604.

Section 7 reiterates, as a prerequisite for licensure, not only a high school education but also graduation "from a board approved college of chiropractic." 63 P.S. § 607.

Section 8 also, as a condition of licensure, requires graduation "from an approved legally incorporated and reputable school or college of chiropractic," repeating the 4,000-hour requirement of section 4. 63 P.S. § 608.

Section 10 repeats the requirement of graduation as a prerequisite to licensure, providing that a student in the final semester "in an approved chiropractic college" may be admitted to the examination. 63 P.S. § 610.

Thus the Act, somewhat redundantly, leaves no doubt that -- in addition to meeting age and preliminary education requirements and passing examinations -- an applicant for licensure as a doctor of chiropractic must have been graduated from an "approved" school or college of chiropractic.

The Facts and Exceptions To Findings of Fact

Because the Coder adjudication denies the relief requested by the petitioner Society and petitioner Coder, only they have filed exceptions. The exceptions on behalf of Dr. Coder have been presented in the professional style which is efficient and customary -- following the order of the findings, conclusions and decree as they appear in the adjudication -- but the Society's exceptions do not follow that or any other logical order; therefore, this opinion perforce must make disposition of the exceptions in the order submitted

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 573]

    by counsel for Dr. Coder, conforming to the adjudication, footnoting the disposition of exceptions in order to preserve a reasonable degree of readability. In the following statement of the facts, each footnote number matches the number of a finding of fact in the adjudication, and each sentence or group of sentences preceding a footnote number constitutes a verbatim reiteration of the finding of fact so numbered in the adjudication. The disposition of the exceptions is stated in the footnote.

ADIO Institute of Straight Chiropractic, Inc. began its first class in January, 1978, and in that year commenced the process of applying to the board for approval.*fn1

On September 13, 1979, at ADIO's request, the board granted ADIO provisional approval for one year from that date, based upon considerations stated in a follow-up letter from board counsel, including the following:

-- that ADIO had submitted information as requested by the board;

-- that ADIO's material "was sufficiently thorough and on its face substantially complied with the standards of the Board and requirements for approval;

-- that, absent provisional approval, ADIO students "would be denied the opportunity to sit for the National Boards;" and

-- that there should be a reasonable time frame within which ADIO could achieve full approval.

The provisional approval, as thus memorialized, included the stipulation "that a provisional approval

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 574]

    of ADIO does not render its graduates eligible to sit for ...


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