Johnson v. Wetzel (majority)Annotate this Case
Appellant Aquil Johnson claimed he was entitled to a refund of monies deducted from his inmate account pursuant to Act 84 because no procedural safeguards were in place when the deductions began. Recent decisions by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that, under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, certain safeguards had to be applied before the first Act 84 deduction was made in connection with a given criminal sentence. The issue before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in this case was whether relief was available where the first deduction was made before those decisions were announced. The Supreme Court found that due process mandated the Department of Corrections afford post-deprivation process analogous to the pre-deprivation procedures required by Bundy v. Wetzel, 184 A.3d 551 (2018). Further development was required to determine whether the Department already supplied Appellant with adequate post-deprivation process. The Court found Appellant failed to set forth a valid basis to implicate an administrative ability-to-pay hearing. The Commonwealth Court was affirmed insofar as it dismissed Appellant’s claims relating to negligence and the administrative ability-to-pay hearing; it was vacated to the extent it dismissed Appellant’s claim relating to due process. The matter is remanded for further proceedings.