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K. & L.N. v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/01/89)

decided: March 1, 1989.

K. & L.N., PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare, in the case of Appeal Of: K. & L.N., Docket #21-85-044, dated January 21, 1988.

COUNSEL

Thomas C. Panian, for petitioners.

Jason W. Manne, Assistant Counsel, with him, Myra Werrin Sacks, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Colins and McGinley, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins.

Author: Colins

[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 635]

K.N. and L.N. (petitioners)*fn1 appeal from an order of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) which denied petitioners' request to expunge an indicated report of child abuse filed by the Western Regional Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYS) pursuant to the Child Protective Services Law (Law).*fn2

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh (Children's) submitted a report of suspected child abuse to CYS on September 19, 1984. A DPW field representative, Mildred Shagum (Shagum) conducted an investigation*fn3 and

[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 636]

    an indicated report of child abuse was filed on October 29, 1984. Petitioners requested that the Secretary of DPW expunge the indicated report pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Law, 11 P.S. ยง 2215(d). After hearing on this matter, the Hearing Officer recommended that the request for expungement be denied. DPW's Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) adopted this recommendation in its order of January 21, 1988. A timely appeal was filed with this Court.

Our scope of review is, of course, limited to whether substantial evidence exists to support the necessary findings of fact, whether there has been an error of law or whether constitutional rights have been violated. Children & Youth Services Division v. Department of Public Welfare, 103 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 616, 520 A.2d 1246 (1987). Substantial evidence as defined in the context of child abuse expungement proceedings is evidence that "so preponderates in favor of a conclusion that it outweighs, in the mind of the factfinder, any inconsistent evidence and reasonable inferences drawn therefrom." Id. at 622-23, 520 A.2d at 1249.

The first issue presented for our review is whether substantial evidence exists to support the denial of expungement. Petitioners maintain that DPW failed to sustain its burden of proof.*fn4 We disagree.

The Hearing Officer considered the testimony of several witnesses. Shagum testified that in conducting her investigation she initially reviewed the FYS records regarding T.N. and petitioners. Shortly thereafter she interviewed petitioners and saw T.N. but did ...


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