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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. LEONARD H. SHAPIRO (02/08/84)

decided: February 8, 1984.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, PETITIONER
v.
LEONARD H. SHAPIRO, M.D., RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Board of Claims in the case of Re: Leonard H. Shapiro, M.D. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Welfare, No. 726.

COUNSEL

Bruce G. Baron, for petitioner.

Richard C. Senker, Maida & Senker, for respondent.

Nicholas Panarella, Jr., for intervenor, Board of Claims.

Judges Williams, Jr., Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 80 Pa. Commw. Page 183]

The Department of Public Welfare (DPW) has appealed from an order of the Board of Claims (Board) which awarded damages to Dr. Shapiro. Following the Board's certification of the record to this Court, DPW filed an application for relief requesting that we direct the Board to supply DPW counsel with a copy of the recommendations of a hearing panel appointed by the Board to hear the case and that those recommendations be included as a part of the record to be reviewed by this Court. The Board filed preliminary objections to DPW's application.

On September 8, 1983, following oral argument on the application before the undersigned Judge, we denied DPW's request to make the recommendations a part of the record. At the same time, we dismissed the Board's preliminary objections based on our conclusion that the Board lacked standing to participate in the instant appeal. On September 22, 1983, however, we granted DPW's application for reconsideration of our prior order and listed the application for argument before a panel of Judges on November 16, 1983. For the reasons which follow, we now vacate

[ 80 Pa. Commw. Page 184]

    our order of September 8 and grant DPW's application.

Before addressing the merits of the application, we reaffirm our prior ruling that the Board's preliminary objections were improperly filed. The Board is not an administrative agency but rather was created "to arbitrate claims against the Commonwealth arising from contracts entered into by the Commonwealth". Section 1 of the Act of May 20, 1937 (Act), P.L. 728, as amended, 72 P.S. § 4651-1. While the Board has the statutory authority to establish rules and regulations for its own government and for practice before it, Section 10 of the Act, 72 P.S. § 4651-10, it is still an adjudicatory body charged with making decisions involving actual controversies between non-governmental party-litigants and the Commonwealth. It is, in a general sense, a judicial tribunal. See Foley Brothers, Inc. v. Commonwealth, 400 Pa. 584, 163 A.2d 80 (1960). As such, it has neither authority nor standing to participate as a party in proceedings involving an appeal from a decision it has made. We, accordingly, will dismiss the preliminary objections as having been filed by a body which lacks standing to participate in the appeal to this Court.

Turning to the merits of the application before us, DPW first argues that it is entitled to review the hearing panel's recommendations because such recommendations constitute the decision in the case unless the Board alters the decision on appeal or reconsideration. We observe that the Board was given the authority to establish ...


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