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ALBERT FREEDMAN v. CITY ALLENTOWN (08/15/89)

decided: August 15, 1989.

ALBERT FREEDMAN, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF JERRY FREEDMAN, DECEASED, APPELLANT,
v.
CITY OF ALLENTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA, DAVID M. HOWELLS, SR., GERALD MONAHAN, JR. ET AL., APPELLEES



Appeal from Common Pleas Court, Lehigh County, Honorable Maxwell E. Davison, Judge.

COUNSEL

Richard N. Shapiro, Philadelphia, for appellant.

William A. Slotter, Deputy Atty. Gen., Ernest D. Preate, Jr., Atty. Gen., Allentown, for appellees.

Craig, Doyle and Palladino, JJ.

Author: Craig

[ 128 Pa. Commw. Page 127]

Albert Freedman, Administrator of the Estate of Jerry Freedman, appeals an order by Judge Davison of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County granting summary judgment to the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (Board) and to its employee, Frank Kroboth. We affirm.

The undisputed facts are that, on February 7, 1986, the decedent, Jerry Freedman, was arrested for a possible violation of the Pennsylvania prescription laws. After questioning, the Allentown police placed the decedent in an isolated cell in the city jail where, within less than one hour, he committed suicide by hanging himself in the cell.

On February 6, 1987, Albert Freedman filed a wrongful death and survivor complaint against the City of Allentown, five Allentown Police Department personnel, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, and the decedent's parole officer, Frank Kroboth. Specifically, the complaint alleges that Kroboth's status is that of "related health care personnel" who had previous knowledge of the decedent's mental disorders and suicidal tendencies, and

[ 128 Pa. Commw. Page 128]

    that Kroboth recklessly and negligently failed to pass along that knowledge to the Allentown Police Department.

Kroboth and the Board then filed a motion for summary judgment asserting sovereign immunity for the Board and official immunity for Kroboth, 1 Pa.C.S. § 2310,*fn1 and that the case does not fall into any of the exception categories of 42 Pa.C.S. § 8522. On October 31, 1988, Judge Davison granted the motion for summary judgment.*fn2

Freedman now appeals to this court, claiming that neither the Board nor Kroboth are immune, and contending that Kroboth is a related health care person. Additionally, Freedman asserts that Kroboth's failure to notify the Allentown police of the decedent's mental instability was willful misconduct subjecting him to liability.

Freedman argues that, based on Kroboth's job description, parole officers render the type of psychological care that classifies them as health care personnel related to doctors, dentists ...


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