Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Municipality of Penn Hills v. Municipality of Penn Hills Personnel Board/Civil Service Commission and Benjamin Westwood, Carmen Traficante and Harry E. Bruce, No. SA 38 of 1983.
Wayne DeLuca, with him, August C. Damian, Damian & DeLuca, for appellant.
Leslie H. Michael, with him, Mark F. Geary, for appellees.
Judges Craig, Barry and Colins, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry. This decision was reached prior to the resignation of Judge Williams, Jr.
[ 87 Pa. Commw. Page 553]
This appeal results from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which affirmed a decision of the Penn Hills Civil Service Commission (Commission) reinstating appellees Benjamin Westwood, Carmen Traficante and Harry Bruce to the rank of specialist on the Penn Hills Police Force.
The facts are not in dispute. The Municipality of Penn Hills (Municipality) has been a home rule charter community since 1976. The Municipality has, by ordinance, established the ranks in the police force of director, captain, lieutenant, sergeant, specialist and patrolman. In order to qualify for the rank of specialist, applicants must, inter alia, pass an examination.
[ 87 Pa. Commw. Page 554]
None of the appellees ever took the examination; they were merely assigned to the position.
In January of 1982, the Municipality's manager reassigned the appellees to the rank of patrolman. Appellees sought reinstatement from the Commission. Following public hearings, the Commission ordered the trio to be returned to their former rank. The trial court affirmed and this appeal followed.
Our scope of review of a trial court's order affirming a decision of the Commission permits us to consider whether an error of law has been committed. McLafferty v. Penn Hills Civil Service Commission, 68 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 632, 450 A.2d 253 (1982). The Municipality argues that both the Commission and the trial court erred in reinstating appellees to the position of specialist since the appellees were never lawfully appointed to that rank.
In Detoro v. Pittston, 344 Pa. 254, 260, 25 A.2d 299, 302 (1942), the court was discussing the civil service laws and stated, "Permanency of tenure applies only to those who have appointments in compliance with the law." In that case, a policeman who had been discharged was seeking reinstatement, alleging he had been appointed in accordance with the civil service laws. The trial court reversed to allow the city to introduce evidence concerning irregularities in the appointment process. The court held that such evidence should have been admitted. The court went on to state:
The legislature has declared in unmistakable terms that merit ascertained in a manner prescribed shall govern appointments to the police department and has formulated and announced the public policy of the state in that respect. An administrative ...