County District Attorney Reimbursement of Counsel Fees

In Mosley v. Pollock, 427 Pa. Super. 483, 629 A.2d 971 (Pa. Super. 1993), the Superior Court interpreted Section 8547 in a situation where a county district attorney sought reimbursement of counsel fees. The Superior Court aptly explained: The Tort Claims Act, it is readily apparent, was intended to protect a public employee who is sued "for damages on account of an injury to a person or property" which occurred while the employee was engaged in the scope of his or her office or duties. ... The Tort Claims Act, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, was intended to guarantee that public employees suffer no financial loss while defending acts performed within the scope of their employment. Wiehagen. To accomplish this purpose, emphasis must be placed on that portion of the statute which provides for indemnification for damages incurred as a result of acts within the scope of the employee's office or duties. Less emphasis may be placed on the nature of the claim for damages which was made. It follows that where a district attorney is sued personally for damages, including legal fees and costs, he is entitled to employ independent counsel to defend himself and be reimbursed for the cost thereof. Mosley, 629 A.2d at 973. In determining District Attorney here was entitled to reimbursement of reasonable attorney's fees, costs and expenses, the court of common pleas stated: Upon conclusion of the federal court case, counsel provided by Washington County or its insurance carrier to defend District Attorney, withdrew any further representation of District Attorney. This necessitated District Attorney to then retain independent counsel to protect his and Washington County's interest by filing post-trial motions, appeals, etc., as outlined above. As a result, District Attorney incurred post trial attorney fees and expenses. Sections 8547 of the Tort Claims Act requires local agencies or governments to defend their employees for claims asserted against them in their capacity as public officers or reimburse them for reasonable attorney fees, costs and expenses in defending the lawsuit. Mosley. Ct. of Common Pleas, Slip Op. of 10/16/06 at 12.