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ROBERT PACKER HOSPITAL v. BERNARD J. KRATOCHVIL (11/06/86)

decided: November 6, 1986.

ROBERT PACKER HOSPITAL
v.
BERNARD J. KRATOCHVIL, RICHARD M. HASTINGS, SHERIFF OF COUNTY OF TIOGA, AND THE COUNTY OF TIOGA. RICHARD M. HASTINGS, SHERIFF OF THE COUNTY OF TIOGA AND THE COUNTY OF TIOGA, APPELLANTS. GUTHRIE CLINIC, LTD. V. BERNARD J. KRATOCHVIL, RICHARD M. HASTINGS, SHERIFF OF THE COUNTY OF TIOGA, AND THE COUNTY OF TIOGA. RICHARD M. HASTINGS, SHERIFF OF THE COUNTY OF TIOGA, AND THE COUNTY OF TIOGA, APPELLANTS



Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Tioga County in the case of Robert Packer Hospital v. Bernard J. Kratochvil, Richard M. Hastings, Sheriff of the County of Tioga and The County of Tioga, No. 337 Civil Division, 1984, dated January 15, 1986, and in the case of Guthrie Clinic, Ltd. v. Bernard J. Kratochvil, Richard M. Hastings, Sheriff of the County of Tioga, and The County of Tioga, No. 203 Civil Division, 1985, dated February 25, 1986.

COUNSEL

William A. Hebe, Spencer, Gleason & Hebe, for appellants.

R. Joseph Landy, Landy & Zeller, for appellee.

Roland Morris, for Amicus Curiae.

Judges MacPhail and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 2]

Richard M. Hastings, Sheriff of the County of Tioga, and the County of Tioga, hereinafter Appellants,*fn1 appeal two orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Tioga County which: (1) granted Judgment on the Pleadings in favor of Robert Packer Hospital*fn2 and (2) granted Summary Judgment in favor of Guthrie Clinic, Ltd.*fn3

[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 3]

These appeals have been consolidated because they involve identical issues. The orders rendered were both based on the reasoning set forth in the opinion and final order entered in favor of Robert Packer Hospital; consequently, that order will be the subject of our review.

While a prisoner at the Tioga County jail, Bernard J. Kratochvil ingested a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner. As a result, Kratochvil suffered severe injuries which necessitated an extended hospital stay.*fn4 The hospital directed its bill to both Bernard Kratochvil and to Richard M. Hastings, Sheriff of Tioga County. Both parties refused to pay despite the hospital's repeated demands. The hospital then filed suit to recover on its bill and named Bernard Kratochvil, Richard M. Hastings, Sheriff of Tioga County, and the County of Tioga as defendants. Appellee hospital subsequently moved for Judgment on the Pleadings which was granted against the three above named defendants on January 15, 1986 in the amount of $51,556.68.

Appellants' sole argument here is that they are not liable for Kratochvil's medical expenses since they arise from self-inflicted injuries. Appellants posit that Section 1 of the Act of May 11, 1949 (Act of 1949), P.L. 1191, 61 P.S. ยง 419.1, which imposes upon the sheriff of the county the burden for "safekeeping, care and maintenance" of prisoners, should be strictly construed to include routine medical care and maintenance, but that it should not include the cost of medical expenses which result from self-inflicted injuries. Appellants argue that Kratochvil alone is liable for his hospital bills.

Appellees argue that the self-inflicted nature of Kratochvil's injuries is not relevant ...


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