Wednesday, May 20, 2015

admin. law - due process - notice of adjudication and of right to appeal

Uzarski v. State Police – Cmwlth. Court – May 19, 2015



Civilian employee of State Police was entitled to due process protections (notice, opportunity to be heard, etc.) in 2 Pa. C.S. 501 et seq., before state employer could hold her financially responsible for lost/damaged state property.


Neither of two internal memos from one of the employee’s supervisors to another met the minimum due process requirements under the law.   Neither was served on Petitioner, nor did either advise her of any right to appeal.   There was no indication on either memo (the latter of which was an “adjudication”) that the aggrieved person was even copied or that either was a final administrative decision on the matter.   Accordingly, in the absence of service on Petitioner and, therefore, adequate notice of the decision, and the complete lack of any notice regarding her right to appeal, the memo simply was insufficient to trigger a thirty-day limit within which to file a petition for review.


Section 504 of the Law, 2 Pa. C.S. 504, in pertinent part, provides that: “No adjudication of a Commonwealth agency shall be valid as to any party unless he shall have been afforded reasonable notice of a hearing and an opportunity to be heard. . . .” 2 Pa. C.S. § 504 (emphasis added).  Moreover, in Holloway v. Lehman, 671 A.2d 1179, 1181 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1996), this Court noted that, “[w]hat process is due, at a minimum, to one who has lost property via the action of a Pennsylvania State agency or Commonwealth official is addressed in the [Administrative Agency Law].”  That process includes, at a minimum, an opportunity to be heard, to have testimony be recorded, to have a full and complete record of the proceedings be kept, the right to examine and cross-examine witnesses and a written adjudication with findings and reasons for the decision.