Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Edward Jones v. Department of Corrections

IN THE COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


February 13, 2012

EDWARD JONES, PETITIONER
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, CHIEF HEARING EXAMINER ROBERT R. MACINTYRE, ACTING SECRETARY SHIRLEY R. MOORE SMEAL, SUPERINTENDENT, SOMERSET, GERALD ROZUM, BUSINESS OFFICE MANAGER, INMATE RECORDS SUPERVISOR, INMATE ACCOUNT OFFICERS, MEDICAL SUPERVISOR, MISCONDUCT HEARING EXAMINER JOSEPH DUPONT, SECURITY OFFICE, RESPONDENTS

The opinion of the court was delivered by: P. Kevin Brobson, Judge

Submitted: October 28, 2011

BEFORE: HONORABLE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, President Judge*fn1 HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge HONORABLE PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge

OPINION BY JUDGE BROBSON

Edward Jones (Jones), an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Somerset (SCI-Somerset), petitions for review of an order of the Acting Secretary of the Department of Corrections (DOC), upholding (with modification as to the amount) an assessment under the Correctional Institution Medical Services Act, 61 Pa. C.S. §§ 3301-3307, against Jones for costs of medical services provided to another inmate as a result of an assault on the inmate by Jones.*fn2 For the reasons that follow, we affirm DOC's order.

The record reveals that Jones, while housed at SCI-Somerset, was involved in an assault against inmate Braheem Bridges (Bridges), causing Bridges to suffer considerable injuries. (Certified Record (C.R.), Item No. 4, Exhibit HE2.) As a result, DOC issued misconduct number 401080 against Jones. (Id.) Following a disciplinary hearing, a hearing examiner determined Jones to be "guilty" of the misconduct and imposed sanctions, including the assessment of medical costs associated with the misconduct. (C.R., Item No. 4, Exhibit HE3.) On May 28, 2010, Jones received a "notice of assessment for misconduct," assessing $49,390.06 against him for hospital and physician fees for surgery on Bridges. (C.R., Item No. 1.) A hearing examiner conducted a Holloway*fn3 hearing on July 15, 2010, for the purpose of determining the amount of the assessment to be imposed against Jones. (C.R., Item No. 4.)

At the hearing, the Commonwealth presented two witnesses, Mr. Barry Schafer, DOC's budget analyst, and Ms. Delores Chaney, DOC's accountant, to substantiate the amount of the assessment. Ms. Chaney presented four medical bills requesting a total of $74,092.50 for Bridges' treatment. (Id. at p. 10.) Based on that figure, Ms. Chaney requested that DOC be reimbursed $49,390.06, which represented two-thirds (2/3) of the amount billed. (Id.) Jones also presented testimony at the hearing and had an opportunity to cross-examine DOC's witnesses. In presenting his case, Jones attempted to prove that DOC is unable to recover funds from his inmate account for restitution based on established precedent. (Id. at p. 15.)

Subsequent to the hearing, DOC filed proposed findings of fact, to which Jones filed exceptions. (C.R., Item No. 8.) By opinion and order dated January 10, 2011, the Acting Secretary for DOC, Shirley R. Moore Smeal (Acting Secretary), denied those exceptions, but modified the amount of the assessment. (C.R., Item No. 13.) The Acting Secretary concluded that, pursuant to Anderson v. Horn, 723 A.2d 254 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1998), appeal denied, 559 Pa. 669, 739 A.2d 167 (1999), DOC is entitled to collect payment for costs of medical services for injuries that an inmate inflicts on another inmate. (Id. at. p. 2.) The Acting Secretary, however, found that although DOC's invoices reflected a total amount billed of $74,092.50, the medical providers accepted $29,073.85 as payment in full for their services. (Id.) Accordingly, the Acting Secretary assessed the amount of $19,382.56 (which figure represents two-thirds of $29,073.85) against Jones. (Id. at p. 3.) Based on DOC's Administrative Directive, DC-ADM 801, Section 8, an inmate is required to pay a fee equivalent to two-thirds of the total cost of medical services provided.*fn4 Jones then filed a petition for review with this Court.

On appeal,*fn5 Jones essentially argues that his due process rights were violated at the Holloway hearing and that an error of law was committed when DOC assessed his inmate account in order to collect restitution.

We first address Jones' due process argument. Jones specifically alleges that DOC withheld certain documents, which deprived Jones of the opportunity to view those documents prior to the Holloway hearing on July 15, 2010. We initially note that a party must make a timely and specific objection to preserve an issue for appellate review. Anderson, 723 A.2d at 257; see also Dilliplaine v. Lehigh Valley Trust Co., 457 Pa. 255, 322 A.2d 114 (1974) (abolishing basic and fundamental error doctrine and requiring parties to make contemporaneous objections at trial to preserve issues for appeal); Criswell v. King, 575 Pa. 34, 40, 834 A.2d 505, 508 (2003). Here, Jones failed to make any objection at the hearing that the Commonwealth deprived him from viewing the documents prior to the hearing. Jones, therefore, waived any argument with regard to the documents presented as evidence at the hearing.*fn6

We next address Jones' argument that DOC committed an error of law. Pursuant to the Correctional Institution Medical Services Act and DOC's regulations establishing the Program, the latter of which is codified at 37 Pa. Code § 93.12 (entitled Prison Medical Services Program), DOC may recover from an inmate costs of medical services provided due to an injury that an inmate inflicts upon another inmate. 61 Pa. C.S. § 3303(b)(2); 37 Pa. Code § 93.12. To recoup fees for medical services, DOC has the authority to withdraw funds for medical restitution from an inmate's account, where the inmate is found guilty of misconduct for an involvement in an assault with another inmate.*fn7 Anderson, 723 A.2d at 256-57.

Jones, however, believes that DOC committed an error of law because DOC is not entitled to recover restitution as a government agency. To support that proposition, Jones relies on Commonwealth v. Figueroa, 691 A.2d 487 (Pa. Super. 1997), a Superior Court case which held that a government agency may not be a victim for the purposes of restitution under the Crimes Code.*fn8 Figueroa, 691 A.2d at 490; Commonwealth v. Runion, 541 Pa. 202, 210, 662 A.2d 617, 621 (1995). Jones' argument, however, is misplaced. Anderson quite clearly held that DOC is entitled to collect fees as a "victim" for purposes of restitution, which is distinguishable from restitution available under the Crimes Code. Anderson, 723 A.2d at 256-57. The Court in Anderson held that DOC is an administrative agency, not a criminal trial court vested with sentencing powers under the Crimes Code. Id. at 256. DOC, therefore, by statutory and regulatory authority, may assess inmates for property damage and medical expenses resulting from various types of misconduct.*fn9 See Jerry v. Dep't of Corr., 990 A.2d 112, 114 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010), appeal denied,608 Pa. 649, 12 A.3d 372 (2011); Brome, 756 A.2d at 89.

Accordingly, we affirm.

IN THE COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Edward Jones, : Petitioner : : v. : : Department of Corrections, Chief : Hearing Examiner Robert R. MacIntyre, : Acting Secretary Shirley R. Moore : Smeal, Superintendent, Somerset, : Gerald Rozum, Business Office : Manager, Inmate Records Supervisor, : Inmate Account Officers, Medical : Supervisor, Misconduct Hearing : Examiner Joseph Dupont, Security : Office, : Respondents :

No. 348 C.D. 2011

ORDER

AND NOW, this 13th day of February, 2012, the order of the Department of Corrections is hereby AFFIRMED.

P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.