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JANE DOE v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (04/27/87)

decided: April 27, 1987.

JANE DOE
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, DR. LILLIAN MEYERS AND DR. DUNCAN CAMPBELL AND KEVIN COOPER. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, DR. LILLIAN MEYERS AND DR. DUNCAN CAMPBELL, APPELLANTS



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, in case of Jane Doe v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Welfare, Dr. Lillian Meyers and Dr. Duncan Campbell v. Kevin Cooper, No. GD 83-10470.

COUNSEL

Frank J. Micale, Sr. Deputy Attorney General, with him, Mark E. Garber, Chief, Tort Litigation Unit, John G. Knorr, III, Sr. Deputy Attorney General, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for appellants.

E. J. Strassburger, Strassburger, McKenna, Gutnick & Potter, for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Colins, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 105 Pa. Commw. Page 483]

The Commonwealth, Department of Public Welfare (Department), Dr. Lillian Meyers and Dr. Duncan Campbell, appeal an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court order compelling the production of documents. Jane Doe has filed a motion to quash this appeal. The merits of the trial court order and the motion to quash are both before us at this time.

Doe brought a personal injury action against the Department and Drs. Meyers and Campbell of Mayview State Hospital (Mayview staff) after an escapee from Mayview abducted and raped her. In connection with her negligence complaint, Doe sought, inter alia, two documents: (1) a memorandum from Dr. Meyers to Mayview's superintendent outlining the psychological status and chronology leading to the inmate's escape, and (2) a document known as a "Task Force Report," containing a retrospective analysis from several departments on the inmate's admission, background and escape. The Department and Mayview staff refused to produce these documents, claiming that the documents

[ 105 Pa. Commw. Page 484]

    were privileged and protected by Section 111 of the Mental Health Procedures Act*fn1 and by the Peer Review Protection Act.*fn2

The common pleas court, concluding the documents were not privileged, ordered production of these and other documents and directed in camera inspection to determine their relevancy.

Turning to the motion to quash, Doe asks this Court to dismiss the Department's appeal because the orders directing production of documents are interlocutory and non-appealable. Under Section 762(a)(1) of the Judicial Code, the Commonwealth Court has jurisdiction over appeals from final orders of the common pleas courts. 42 Pa. C.S. ยง 762(a)(1). It has been said that a final order ends the litigation or disposes of the entire case. Piltzer v. Independence Federal Savings and Loan Association, 456 Pa. 402, 319 A.2d 677 (1974). Furthermore, in this Commonwealth, orders to parties directing responses are interlocutory and non-appealable. See, e.g., Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 483 Pa. 35, 394 A.2d 525 (1978) (appeal of Commonwealth Court order enforcing a subpoena to testify quashed).*fn3

The Department and the Mayview staff concede this principle but argue that the order in this case falls into the "collateral order" exception to the rule that only final orders are appealable.

In Cohen v. Beneficial Industrial Loan Corp., 337 U.S. 541 (1949), the United States Supreme Court articulated the collateral order doctrine. To be appealable, an order, ...


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