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M.B. (08/25/86)

filed: August 25, 1986.

IN THE INTEREST OF M.B., A MINOR. APPEAL OF M.D.B., NATURAL FATHER


Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Westmoreland County, Juvenile Division, at No. 29 WCCB 1984.

COUNSEL

Wesley T. Long, Greensburg, for appellant.

Brosky, Kelly and Roberts, JJ.

Author: Brosky

[ 356 Pa. Super. Page 258]

This appeal is from an order declaring appellant's child to be a dependent child and permitting the child to remain in the custody of his parents subject to certain conditions and limitations. Appellant argues that the trial court erred in adjudicating his son a dependent child under the Juvenile

[ 356 Pa. Super. Page 259]

Act when a petition under that Act was never filed.*fn1 We agree and, accordingly, reverse.

Facts and Procedural History

Appellant's four and one-half year old son was examined by a Dr. Stillman as a result of a two-inch diameter bruise on the child's right buttock. A caseworker for the Westmoreland Children's Bureau investigated the injury as a suspected case of child abuse. It was reported that appellant had struck the child when he failed to heed his father's request that he be silent while the father watched the evening news. A petition was filed under the Child Protective Services Law, 11 P.S. § 2201, et. seq. The petition alleged child abuse. The trial court found the allegation of abuse unfounded, but determined that appellant's son was a dependent child under the terms of the Juvenile Act. The instant appeal followed.

Analysis

Appellant argues that the trial court erred in holding that appellant's son was dependent under the Juvenile Act, 42 Pa.C.S. § 6301, et seq., when the petition before the court was for abuse under the Child Protective Services Law. We agree.

Courts cannot rule on matters not before them. It is, of course, the pleadings which limit the court's agenda. "The pleadings determine the issues in any given case." Anflick v. Grukler, 353 Pa. 470, 472, 46 A.2d 161, 162 (1946). "[A] plaintiff cannot file a complaint which avers one cause of action, and be permitted, on the trial, to prove a different ...


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