Appeal from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County in the cases of Joseph Ambrosia, Andrea Brezinski, Robert Burda, Martin Crofton, Richard Dalykas, Michael Dougherty, Eugene Eiden, Joseph Gaughan, Frank Grasso, Michael McLane, Richard Novembrino, Jeff Ozovek, Richard Patchcoski, Richard Rossi, James Snyder, William J. Strong, Patrick Tobin, James Walsh, David West, Joseph Yacone, and William R. Young v. City of Scranton, No. 82 Civil 1040; Paul Caviston v. City of Scranton, No. 82 Civil 1601; and Thomas Ryan v. City of Scranton, No. 82 Civil 3863.
Robert A. Mazzoni, for appellants.
Robert T. Gownley, Jr., Assistant City Solicitor, for appellee.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Colins, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri.
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Appellants were hired on or about July 8, 1980 by the City of Scranton to serve as reserve patrolmen and, in accordance with the Act of June 18, 1974, P.L. 359, as amended, 53 P.S. §§ 740-749, establishing the Municipal Police Officers' Education and Training Program, attended 480 hours of instruction at Lackawanna Junior College in Scranton from July 1980 to July 1981. After successfully completing the mandatory training, Appellants filed suit against the City of Scranton
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requesting back wages and reimbursement for expenses incurred allegedly owed them for their attendance at the training program.*fn1 The Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas, upon receiving into evidence waivers signed by Appellants in which Appellants agreed to waive all rights to wages or expenses from the City during their attendance at the training program, granted the City's motion for non-suit. Appellants then filed a motion for removal of the non-suit which was refused by the common pleas court. This appeal followed.
Appellants argue on appeal that there exists a factual foundation for liability for wages and expenses which should have been referred to a jury for determination. Appellants assert that they were not aware of the rights that they were giving up when they signed the waivers.
To date, there have been no decisions by an appellate court on this issue. The Carbon County Court of Common Pleas in Joseph Weaver et al. v. The Borough of Jim Thorpe, 8 Carbon County L.J. (C.P. Pa. 1981), was presented with the issue whether because the plaintiffs in Weaver attended police training courses after being informed by the Borough it could not lawfully pay them for their attendance they waived their statutory right of compensation as the Borough argued. The common pleas court disagreed, stating, that the Borough had misapplied the law of waiver. The common
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pleas court pointed out that waiver is the intentional relinquishment of a known right, Linda Coal & Supply Co. v. Tasa Coal Co., 416 Pa. 97, 204 A.2d 451 (1964), that "to constitute a waiver of a legal right, there must be a clear, unequivocal and decisive act of the party with knowledge of such right and an evident purpose to surrender it." Brown v. City of Pittsburgh, 409 Pa. 357, 360, 186 A.2d 399, 401 (1962). Because there was no evidence that the plaintiffs had indicated in a clear and decisive way that they were giving up their right of compensation, the court awarded summary judgment in the plaintiffs' favor.
Contrary to the circumstances in the Weaver case, in this case plaintiffs signed a waiver in which each agreed to "waive all rights I may have in receiving any wages or expenses from the City of Scranton under the Act." The waiver also included a statement to the effect that the person whose signature appeared at the bottom of ...