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CITY DUBOIS v. JAMES R. BEERS (09/27/88)

decided: September 27, 1988.

CITY OF DUBOIS, APPELLANT
v.
JAMES R. BEERS, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Clearfield County in the case of James R. Beers v. City of DuBois, No. 85-1097-CD.

COUNSEL

Toni M. Cherry, with her, Edward V. Cherry, Gleason, Cherry & Cherry, P.C., for appellant.

Robert M. Hanak, with him, Matthew B. Taladay, for appellee.

Judges MacPhail and Colins, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Narick.

Author: Narick

[ 120 Pa. Commw. Page 104]

Appellee James R. Beers (Beers) was employed as the Chief of Police by the City of DuBois (City), Appellant herein, a position he had held since 1978. While on duty on January 2, 1985, Beers responded to a report that a gunman was holding hostages at a local business college and that shots had been fired. Armed with a shotgun, Beers entered the building alone, confronted and disarmed the gunman. Some three weeks later, on January 20, 1985, Beers suffered a stroke and was hospitalized. He was unable to return to work until July 11, 1986 and sought full salary and medical benefits under the so-called Heart and Lung Act.*fn1

The City refused to pay these benefits on the grounds that it did not consider Beers' injury to be work-related. Instead, Beers was paid for all accrued sick leave, exhausting those benefits. Beers sued the City in the Court of Common Pleas of Clearfield County to recover Heart and Lung Act benefits on the grounds that his stroke was brought on by the stress of his job generally and by the encounter with the gunman specifically.

[ 120 Pa. Commw. Page 105]

Beers' suit included an additional count involving his salary. In January 1984, the City and its police bargaining unit submitted wage and fringe benefit issues to an arbitration panel under the provisions of Act 111.*fn2 The arbitrators awarded certain salary increases to the bargaining unit members. Because neither Beers' name nor the chief of police position was specifically mentioned in the contract, the arbitrators' award was silent as to whether Beers was included, and the City took the position that he was not, despite the fact that he had been covered in prior years. Beers sought a declaration by the trial court that he was a member of the police bargaining unit and therefore entitled to the benefits of the arbitration award.

The trial court determined that Beers was entitled to Heart and Lung Act benefits and that he was a member of the police bargaining unit, entitling him to the benefits of the arbitration award. Timely motions for post-trial relief*fn3 were filed by the City. The trial court modified its order to provide for a credit to the City for sick leave benefits it had paid to Beers against the compensation awarded and reinstated Beers' accrued sick leave. The City has appealed from this order, presenting four issues for our review.

The City first argues that the trial court erred in dismissing three of the issues it raised in its motion for post-trial relief for failure to preserve the issues by moving for a compulsory non-suit at the conclusion of Beers' case. These three issues were:

[ 120 Pa. Commw. Page 1064]

. That in finding that the Plaintiff sustained a work-related injury, the Court went against the provisions of the Heart ...


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