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DONNA URAM v. COUNTY ALLEGHENY (12/13/89)

decided: December 13, 1989.

DONNA URAM, APPELLANT,
v.
COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY, WESTERN PSYCHIATRIC INSTITUTE & CLINIC, BARBARA MISIEWECZ, SANDRA TOSIC, A. ZIEDERS, AND CHRIS DAVIS, APPELLEES



Appeal from Common Pleas Court, Allegheny County; Honorable Richard Zeleznik, Judge.

COUNSEL

Stanley M. Stein, Feldstein, Grinberg, Stein and McKee, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Howard A. Chajson, Paul W. Roman, Jr., Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, P.C., Pittsburgh, for appellees, Allegheny County and Sandra Tosic.

Crumlish, Jr., President Judge, and Craig, Barry, Colins, Palladino, McGinley and Smith, JJ.

Author: Palladino

[ 130 Pa. Commw. Page 150]

Donna Uram (Appellant) appeals an order of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas (trial court) which granted the motion for summary judgment of Allegheny County (County) and Sandra Tosic (Tosic) (collectively, Appellees).*fn1 For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

[ 130 Pa. Commw. Page 151]

On June 26, 1985, Appellant telephoned Western Psychiatric Institute (Institute) in response to an Institute advertisement offering counseling services, and spoke with Barbara Misiewicz, an Institute nurse clinician (nurse). Appellant also spoke with the nurse on the following two days. As a result of these conversations, the nurse telephoned Tosic, a Human Service Aide 3*fn2 for the Allegheny County Mental Health/Mental Retardation/Drug and Alcohol Program (Program), informed her of the content of the conversations with Appellant and requested a warrant for an emergency examination (warrant).*fn3 Based upon the information provided by the nurse, Tosic authorized a warrant. After receiving authorization for the warrant from Tosic, the nurse noted the authorization on a formal, written warrant application which was forwarded to the Program.

Police were dispatched to Appellant's home. Upon arrival a police officer phoned Tosic, informed her that he did not feel Appellant required treatment and suggested the warrant be withdrawn. Tosic did not withdraw the warrant and Appellant was transported to St. John's Hospital where she was examined and released.

Appellant filed a multi-count suit alleging a multitude of state law violations and that Tosic and County had violated her constitutional rights protected by 42 U.S.C. § 1983.*fn4

[ 130 Pa. Commw. Page 152]

Trial court granted Appellees' motion for summary judgment stating that what is commonly called the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act, 42 Pa.C.S. § 8541 grants immunity to them under the circumstances of this case.

On appeal, Appellant argues that the trial court erred 1) in holding that as a matter of law that Tosic had not committed willful misconduct and therefore was immune under § 8541 and 2) in applying immunity under § 8541 to Appellant's Federal Constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Our scope of review of a trial court's grant of summary judgment is limited to a determination of whether the trial court abused its discretion or committed an error of law. Schreck v. North Codorus Township, 126 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 407, 559 A.2d 1018 (1989). A motion for summary judgment may properly be granted when the moving party establishes that no ...


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