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RUTH W. STRONG v. COUNTY ERIE (01/06/89)

decided: January 6, 1989.

RUTH W. STRONG, APPELLANT
v.
THE COUNTY OF ERIE, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, in the case of Ruth W. Strong v. The County of Erie, in No. 1179-A-1986.

COUNSEL

Gary Eiben, for appellant.

Kenneth D. Chestek, for appellee.

Judges Barry and Palladino, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.

Author: Palladino

[ 122 Pa. Commw. Page 462]

Ruth W. Strong (Appellant) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County granting the motion of the County of Erie for summary judgment.

[ 122 Pa. Commw. Page 463]

Appellant is the elected treasurer for Lawrence Park Township in Erie County. Included in her duties is collection of real estate taxes imposed by the Township, School District and Erie County. Appellant is in her fifth term as treasurer (each term is 4 years). Prior to the primary election for municipal tax collectors in 1985, the Erie County Commissioners established the compensation these elected officials would receive for the term 1986 through 1989 by enacting Ordinance No. 11 of 1985.*fn1 This ordinance set the compensation for tax collectors at a percentage of the 1985 assessed value of the property in the municipalities in which the tax collectors were to collect taxes but it capped the compensation which could be received by the Lawrence Park tax collector at $5000.*fn2

Appellant, after the primary, commenced an action in the trial court, seeking the difference in salary she would receive if her compensation were not capped and damages for mental anguish and suffering. Appellant's action was based on 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, which states:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any

[ 122 Pa. Commw. Page 464]

    rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in any action at law, suit in equity or other proper proceeding for redress. . . .

Fundamental to Appellant's section 1983 action is her assertion that Ordinance No. 11 violates the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment of the United States Constitution because Ordinance No. 11 does not compensate the tax collector of Lawrence Park at ...


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