Appealed From No. 1994-C-9270. Common Pleas Court of the County of Northampton. Judge FREEDBERG, President Judge.
Before: Honorable Bernard L. McGINLEY, Judge, Honorable Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter, Judge, Honorable Emil E. Narick, Senior Judge. Opinion BY Senior Judge Narick
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Narick
OPINION BY SENIOR JUDGE NARICK
This appeal presents the issues of: 1) whether a police officer is entitled to compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act *fn1 for off-duty hours spent in the care, maintenance and training of a dog which is owned by the officer but leased to the municipality, where it is regularly used by the officer on patrol without the objection and with the knowledge of the municipality; and 2) whether the Borough of Wilson (Borough) willfully denied compensation.
Calvin Siegfried, Sr. (Siegfried) appeals from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County (trial court), which denied his claim for relief under the FLSA. We affirm.
Unlike the cases cited by Siegfried in which overtime has been awarded for canine home maintenance, see Nichols v. Chicago, 789 F. Supp. 1438 (E.D. Ill. 1992); Truslow v. Spotsylvania County Sheriff, 783 F. Supp. 274 (E. D. Va. 1992); Graham v. Chicago, 828 F. Supp. 576 (E. D. Ill. 1993); Reich v. NYCTA, 839 F. Supp. 171 (E.D. N.Y. 1993); Andrews v. Dubois, 888 F. Supp. 213 (D. Del. 1995) where the departments adopted formal canine programs in which the law enforcement entity owned the canines used on patrol and required the employees to care for the canines as a condition to employment in the canine unit, Siegfried was a patrol officer for the Borough where, although not requested by the Borough, he was permitted to use his dog in his patrol duties pursuant to a One Dollar ($1.00) lease with the Borough. *fn2 Siegfried was free to unilaterally terminate the lease at any time and continue his normal patrol duty without any adverse repercussions. As long as Siegfried chose to use the dog in his patrols, he elected, without the Borough's order or direction, to assume the responsibility for the dog's grooming and boarding, but the Borough accepted all liability arising from its use in patrol. The Borough paid for professional dog training and treatment of any patrol-related injuries, and the dog was transported to and from work in a Borough vehicle operated by Siegfried during his paid work hours. The Police Department eventually adopted rules, drafted by Siegfried, governing the Police Department's policy on the proper handling, if any, of canines used in patrol.
The Borough conducted an investigation in which it concluded that permitting the officers to use dogs on patrol could result in additional financial liability to the Borough and in September of 1994, withdrew its permission to use dogs on patrols. Siegfried continued his duties with the Police Department as a patrol officer without any adverse repercussions. On November 18, 1994, Siegfried filed a complaint with the trial court seeking overtime compensation, liquidated damages and attorney's fees under the FLSA for time spent off duty in the care and training of his dog. On September 3, 1996, after a non-jury trial, the trial court denied the claim. Siegfried appealed directly to this Court on October 2, 1996, without filing post-trial motions.
On appeal to this Court, *fn3 Siegfried argues that as an employee of the Borough, he is entitled to compensation under the FLSA for off-duty hours spent in the care, maintenance and training of a dog which he owned but leased to the municipality. He argues that he is so entitled because he used the dog on patrol to the benefit and with the full knowledge of the Borough. He further argues that the Borough willfully denied this compensation.
The Borough counters that issues not preserved by a timely post-trial motion pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. No. 227.1 are waived for purposes of appeal. It argues that Siegfried has therefore waived all of the issues presented in this appeal because he did not file any post-trial motions, timely or otherwise. We agree.
Rule 302(a) *fn4 clearly states that issues not raised in the trial court are waived and cannot be raised for the first time on appeal. Pennsylvania courts have consistently applied this rule. Commonwealth v. Piper, 458 Pa. 307, 328 A.2d 845 (1974). The appellate court may sua sponte refuse to address an issue raised on appeal that was not raised and preserved below, Tarter v. Linn, 396 Pa. Super. 155, 578 A.2d 453 (1990), or pursuant to opposing counsel's motion to dismiss for failure to preserve the question below pursuant to Pa. R.A.P. 1972(5). In many civil actions governed by Pa. R.C.P. No. 227.1, once issues are raised, a written motion for post-trial relief *fn5 must also be filed in a timely manner *fn6 in order to preserve the issues on appeal *fn7 .
In order to ascertain the application of Rule 227.1 to the present case, we must therefore begin by ascertaining the precise nature of the cause of action. This case originated in the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County as a direct civil complaint to recover damages arising from the Borough's alleged violation of statutorily created rights under the FLSA. The trial was conducted without a jury. Jurisdiction over the initial cause of action is conferred upon the common pleas court by Section 216(b) of the FLSA, which provides that an action to recover the liability prescribed under the provisions of FLSA may be maintained by an employee against an employer, including a public agency, in any federal or state court of competent jurisdiction. *fn8 Because the statute is otherwise silent as to appellate jurisdiction, this Court's exercise of appellate jurisdiction is pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S. § 762(a)(4)(A). *fn9
On its face, this is an appeal from a trial court decision filed in the case of a trial without jury as expressly addressed by the plain language of Pa. R.C.P. No. 227(c)(2). *fn ...