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KEITH A. EICHENLAUB CHARLES S. SHOEMAKER v. CITY LOCK HAVEN FRANK L. TAGGART (07/20/84)

decided: July 20, 1984.

KEITH A. EICHENLAUB; CHARLES S. SHOEMAKER, AND DISTRICT COUNCIL 86, OF THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO, BY ITS TRUSTEE AD LITEM PAT SALVATORE, APPELLANTS
v.
CITY OF LOCK HAVEN; FRANK L. TAGGART, CITY MANAGER; LOCK HAVEN CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, AND LARRY E. COPLOFF, CHAIRMAN, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of Court of Common Pleas of Clinton County in case of Keith A. Eichenlaub; Charles E. Shoemaker, and District Council 86, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, by its Trustee Ad Litem Pat Salvatore v. City of Lock Haven; Frank L. Taggart, City Manager; Lock Haven Civil Service Commission, and Larry E. Coploff, Chairman, No. 1-83.

COUNSEL

Lee W. Jackson, Kirschner, Walters, Willig, Weinberg & Dempsey, for appellants.

Larry E. Coploff, Williamson, Coploff & Hanna, for appellees.

Judges Williams, Jr., Barry and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.

Author: Barry

[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 140]

This appeal results from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Clinton County which sustained preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer filed by the appellees, the City of Lock Haven (City), the

[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 141]

Lock Haven Civil Service Commission (Commission), Frank Taggart, City Manager and Larry Coploff, Chairman of the Commission and dismissed a petition for review of a governmental action filed by appellants, Keith Eichenlaub, a City policeman, Charles E. Shoemaker, a City resident and District Council 86, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the exclusive bargaining agent for the City policemen.

The facts are not in dispute. The City, a third class city, is organized under the Optional Third Class City Charter Law (Optional Charter Law), Act of July 15, 1957, P.L. 901, as amended, 53 P.S. §§ 41101-41625 (Supp. 1984-85). Pursuant thereto, the Commission adopted rules and regulations which permitted individuals who were not members of the City's police force to apply, be tested and be hired for positions as officers, including Chief of Police, on the City's police force. In early 1981, the Chief of Police resigned his position. Pursuant to these rules and regulations, the City accepted applications for the position from both members and non-members of the police force. All of the applicants were tested and despite the fact at least one member of the force passed the exam, the appellees appointed as Chief of Police on July 11, 1982, James Belcher, a non-member of the force.

Appellants filed the present lawsuit, claiming the actions of the appellees violated Section 2002 of the Third Class City Code (Code), Act of June 23, 1931, P.L. 932, as amended, 53 P.S. § 37002 (Supp. 1984-85), which provides:

The mayor shall designate, from the force, the Chief and other officers who shall serve as such officers until their successors are appointed and qualified. The chief of police shall

[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 142]

    be designated by the mayor and may be demoted without cause in the same manner, but not to any rank lower than the rank which he held at the time of his ...


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