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Uzarski v. State Police

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

May 19, 2015

Nichole Beswick Uzarski, Petitioner
v.
Pennsylvania State Police, Respondent

Argued March 9, 2015

State Agency: Pennsylvania State Police.

Sean T. Welby, Harrisburg, for petitioner.

Joanna Reynolds, Assistant Counsel, Harrisburg, for respondent.

BEFORE: HONORABLE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, Judge, HONORABLE ROBERT SIMPSON, Judge, HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge.

OPINION

Page 1172

BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, JUDGE

Liquor Enforcement Officer (LEO) Nicole Beswick Uzarski (Petitioner), a civilian employee of the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), petitions for review of a PSP-issued decision dated November 13, 2013, determining that the damage to a PSP-issued Garmin GPS unit constituted negligence and denying her request for Board of Appeal review.[1] We vacate PSP's decision and remand this matter for further proceedings at the agency level which satisfy the due process requirements for Commonwealth agency adjudications set forth in the Administrative Agency Law (the Law).[2]

In September 2013, Petitioner advised the Acting District Officer Commander-Pittsburgh of the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (Commander) that the screen on her assigned GPS unit was broken. In a memo to the Bureau Director, the Commander indicated that Petitioner had advised him that: (1) she had stored the unit, with the charger, in the center console of her vehicle in an effort to prevent theft of the unit in the predominately high crime areas in which she worked; (2) the unit may have rubbed against the charger thereby causing the screen to crack; and (3) she was requesting a review as to the replacement of the unit. In response, the Acting Western Section Commander of the Bureau issued a memo to the Bureau Director indicating that: (1) the unit should not have been stored in a position where it could be damaged; (2) the screen should not have broken easily and, therefore, must have endured unusually hard contact; and (3) he was recommending that Petitioner be deemed negligent in the manner in which she stored and cared for the unit.

Subsequently, the Director of Staff Services issued an October 2 memo to the Bureau Director, which PSP maintains constituted the final order in this matter. In pertinent part, the memo provided as follows:

1. As per Reference (a) [field regulation on loss of or damage to Commonwealth property or equipment (FR 4-1)], LEO Beswick Uzarski has been determined to be Responsible for the damage to the Garmin GPS Unit . . . . Please have him [sic] prepare a check made payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the amount of $117.00 and submit it to the Bureau of Staff Services, 1800 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110, within 45 days.
2. If you [Bureau Director] have any questions regarding this matter, please contact me at 717-783-5483.

October 2, 2013 Memo at 1; Reproduced Record (R.R.) at 17a (emphasis in original). In addition, the October 2 memo listed as an enclosure the report of ...


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