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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JACK CLARK (05/19/86)

decided: May 19, 1986.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA LIQUOR CONTROL BOARD, PETITIONER
v.
JACK CLARK, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Board of Claims in the case of Jack Clark v. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, No. FC-329-83, dated May 9, 1985.

COUNSEL

Eileen S. Maunus, Assistant Counsel, with her, Gary F. DiVito, Chief Counsel, for petitioner.

Kimber L. Latsha, with her, John Adam Matlawski and John D. Killian, Killian & Gephart, for respondent.

Judges MacPhail and Colins, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 321]

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) appeals here from an order of the Board of Claims (Board) which entered judgment in the amount of $100.00 plus interest in favor of Jack Clark (Claimant),

[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 322]

    an Assistant Manager I at PLCB Store No. 5157, Moyamissing Plaza, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

While on duty December 6, 1982, Claimant received a cash sum for deposit in the amount of $1400.00 from a clerk. That clerk had counted the deposit twice in Claimant's presence. In accordance with the PLCB's "Manual of Instructions for Store Operation, Armored Car Collection and Change Service" (Manual), Claimant personally counted the bills twice, placing all bills face up. He then noted the amount, $1400.00, on the strap, initialed the strap, placed the deposit in a currency packet, and dropped the strapped currency packet in the store's safe. Claimant also recorded the amount of deposit on the deposit envelope, which is left outside of the safe.

The opening of the store safe requires two keys, one in the hands of the PLCB and the other in the hands of the courier service. Claimant was not on duty when this deposit was retrieved from the safe. The deposit was taken to a bank, when recounting revealed the actual amount of deposit to be $1300.00. Following an investigation, the PLCB's Audit Division determined that Claimant was responsible for the $100.00 shortage. The PLCB then deducted $100.00 from Claimant's pay.

On August 4, 1983, Claimant filed a Petition for Claim before the Board, arguing that he did not cause the $100.00 shortage and that it could not be charged to him. Despite PLCB objections to the Board's jurisdiction, the Board entered judgment in Claimant's favor based on its determination that the PLCB did not have a basis to withhold the monies from Claimant's pay.

The first issue presented for our consideration is whether the Board properly assumed jurisdiction over Claimant's claim. Section 4 of the Act of May 20, 1937 (Act of 1937), P.L. 728, as amended, 72 P.S. § 4651-4 provides, inter alia, that "[t]he Board of Claims shall

[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 323]

    have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine all claims against the Commonwealth arising from contracts hereafter entered into with the Commonwealth, where the amount in controversy amounts to $300.00 or more." We have previously required that both a contract claim against the Commonwealth and an amount in controversy of at least $300.00 be present in order for the Board to have jurisdiction. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board v. Shulin, 80 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 311, 471 A.2d 599 (1984). See also Kusnir v. Leach, 64 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 65, 439 A.2d 223 (1982). Since the amount in controversy here is less than the required $300.00, the PLCB argues that the Board lacked jurisdiction over this claim.

However, under Section 4 of the Act of 1937, the Board also enjoys exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine those claims which were previously acted on by the Auditor General and State Treasurer pursuant to Article X of The Fiscal Code (Fiscal Code), Act of April 9, 1929, P.L. 343, as amended, 72 P.S. §§ 1001-1004. Regulation 851.2, 61 Pa. Code § 851.2 sets forth the ...


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