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WILLIAM J. KNIGHT v. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION CITY PHILADELPHIA (04/01/87)

decided: April 1, 1987.

WILLIAM J. KNIGHT, APPELLANT
v.
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, in case of William J. Knight v. Civil Service Commission of the City of Philadelphia, No. 3438 May Term, 1983.

COUNSEL

Michael F. Eichert, Bloom, Ocks and Fisher, for appellant.

Valerie West, Assistant City Solicitor, for appellee.

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

Author: Barbieri

[ 105 Pa. Commw. Page 130]

William J. Knight has appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, which affirmed a decision of the Civil Service Commission of the City of Philadelphia (Commission) dismissing him from his employment with the Philadelphia Fire Department (Department).

Knight, an epileptic, was hospitalized on May 27, 1982, for a seizure disorder and drug intoxication. A urine toxic drug screen ordered by Knight's attending physician revealed the presence of methamphetamines, nicotine, and metabolites of Seco-barbital and Phenytoin. As a result, Knight was dismissed from the Department on July 5, 1982, for conduct unbecoming an officer.

In the Notice of Dismissal, the Fire Commissioner stated that Knight's condition on May 27, 1982, was "attributed to the mixing of drugs and alcohol with Dilantin (a prescription medication)." The Commissioner based this conclusion on the hospital discharge summary which noted that Knight had been advised of the ramifications of mixing these substances.

The only witness to testify before the Commission was the physician who treated Knight during the course of his hospitalization. Subsequent to his dismissal, Knight secured a letter from this physician which was introduced into evidence. The letter amended the discharge summary and stated that all the drugs found in

[ 105 Pa. Commw. Page 131]

Knight's system, with the exception of nicotine, were prescribed and that Knight had not mixed drugs and alcohol with Dilantin. The physician himself testified to this and explained further that the warning contained in the discharge summary regarding the mixing of drugs and alcohol with Dilantin was simply a routine admonition on the part of the hospital. The physician further testified that Knight had told him that the drugs found in his system were prescribed. The doctor did not ask Knight specifically whether the Seco-barbital had been prescribed but testified his representation to that effect was speculative.

The parties originally intended to take the deposition of Knight's treating physician to determine what medications had been prescribed for him; however, this deposition was never taken. Both parties appear to believe a typewritten letter from Knight's treating physician dated October 13, 1982, listing the dates Knight was seen and all medications prescribed for him, was admitted into the record. Knight's counsel produced a handwritten note from the treating physician which stated that he had been treating Knight for "medications for diet -- Desoxyn, and Valium for his anxiety and seizure disorder."*fn1 However, a review of the record reveals that the October 13, 1982, letter was, in fact, never admitted.

The parties appeared before the Commission a total of five (5) times. On one such occasion, counsel for the Department attempted to submit the October 13, 1982, letter from the treating physician, as well as ...


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