No. 3547 Philadelphia, 1982, Appeal from the Order of November 16, 1982, Court of Common Pleas, Luzerne County, Civil Division at No. 19-C of 1981
Bradford Dorrance, Harrisburg, for appellant.
Paul J. Drucker, Philadelphia, for Viadock, appellees.
Cavanaugh, Cirillo and Johnson, JJ.
[ 339 Pa. Super. Page 439]
This case comes before us on appeal from an Order denying Appellant, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (the Department), the right to intervene in a suit claiming damages arising from alleged medical malpractice.
Beverly Ann Viadock, the plaintiff in the instant case, became ill in September of 1978, thereby incurring substantial
[ 339 Pa. Super. Page 440]
medical bills. In August of 1980, before the Arbitration Panel for Health Care, plaintiff instituted suit against two hospitals and twelve physicians for injuries incurred as a result of their alleged malpractice. In December of 1980, plaintiff transferred the case to the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County.
The Department, which had paid plaintiff's medical expenses and had provided funds to the plaintiff's family during the pendency of the action, sought to intervene in order to recover the monies which had been expended on behalf of plaintiff and her family.
The trial court recognized that, as a general proposition of law, the Department has a right to be reimbursed for public assistance payments*fn1 from certain types of assets owned by a recipient and by his or her spouse and unemancipated minor children, Section 4(a) of The Support Law,*fn2 and that the Department's regulations specifically include a personal injury claim as one of the assets available for such purpose. Shearer v. Moore, 277 Pa. Super. 70, 419 A.2d 665 (1980); 55 Pa.Code § 257.23(c).
Any public body or public agency may sue the owner of such property directly for monies so expended, 62 P.S. § 1974(a), or may sue for and recover from third parties any sum of money due such person. 62 P.S. § 1975(a). If the amount due shall have been reduced to judgment, the public body or public agency may be substituted as plaintiff in the judgment and, if the sum due is founded on an order or decree ...