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LANCE v. LUZERNE COUNTY MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION (01/02/51)

January 2, 1951

LANCE, APPELLANT,
v.
LUZERNE COUNTY MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION



Appeal, No. 79, Jan. T., 1950, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, July T., 1947, No. 23, in case of John L. Lance et al., trading as J.H. and W. L. Lance v. Luzerne County Manufacturers Association et al., etc. Decree reversed.

COUNSEL

Fairfax Leary, Jr., with him Earl G. Harrison, Arlin M. Adams, Johnson & Pope and Schnader, Harrisson, Segal & Lewis, for appellants.

Andrew Hourigan, Jr., with him Charles L. Casper, James P. Harris, John C. Phillips, Mose H. Salsburg, White, Rowlands, Aston & Hourigan, Fahey & Casper, Charles H. Miner, Jr., Ben R. Jones, Jr. and Bedford, Waller, Jones & Darling, for appellees.

Before Drew, C.j., Jones, Bell, Ladner and Chidsey, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 366 Pa. Page 399]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE JONES

The question here involved is whether testifying as an expert witness to matters requiring a knowledge of engineering constitutes the practice of engineering within the meaning of the Act of May 6, 1924, P.L. 820, 63 PS § 131 et seq.

The plaintiffs sued the defendants and others in an action at law to recover fees alleged to be due them for services as expert witnesses and as consultants in a water rate proceeding before the Pennsylvania Public Service Commission. On the defendants' motion attacking the plaintiffs' statement of claim as insufficient, the court below entered an order requiring the

[ 366 Pa. Page 400]

    plaintiffs to file a more specific statement. It was them that they resorted to the instant suit in equity for discovery in aid of their preparation of an amended statement of claim for use in the action at law. To the bill of complaint, the defendants filed preliminary objections, all of which the learned judge of the court below, specially presiding, overruled except for the objection that the plaintiffs' demands for discovery were vague, too broad and covered irrelevant matters. For that reason, the court sustained the preliminary objections and allowed the plaintiffs thirty days within which to amend. An amended bill of complaint having thereafter been filed, the defendants interposed preliminary objections thereto but, this time, expressly limited to the ground that "the plaintiffs fail to allege and cannot truthfully allege that at the time of the alleged rendition of the alleged services for which the action at law is brought..., and in aid of which their Bill in Equity in brought,... they or either of them were registered as engineers in compliance with the Act of May 6, 1927, P.L. 820, 63 P.S., section 131 et seq." It was stipulated of record by respective counsel for the parties that neither of the plaintiffs was a registered professional engineer with the State Registration Board of Professional Engineers at the time the services claimed for in the action at law were performed. The services in suit covered the period from June 1928 to July 1933, inclusive. The statute pertinent to the question raised by the defendants' preliminary objections was, therefore, the Act of 1927, supra.

Section 1 of the Act of 1927, supra, provides that "In order to safeguard life, health, and property, any person practicing, or offering to practice, the profession of engineering in any of its branches, including surveying, shall hereafter be required to submit evidence that he or she is qualified so to practice, and shall be

[ 366 Pa. Page 401]

    registered as hereinafter provided; and it shall be unlawful for any person to practice, or to offer to practice, the profession of engineering, in any of its branches, including surveying, in this Commonwealth, unless such person has been duly registered or exempted under the provisions of this act." One so qualified and registered becomes a "professional engineer" which Section 2 of the Act defines as follows: "The term 'professional engineer,' as used in this act, shall mean a person who, through technical knowledge gained by education or by experience in one or more branches of engineering, including surveying, initiates, investigates, plans, and directs the control of the forces of and the utilization of the materials of nature, and of human activities in connection therewith, for the benefit of man, and who represents himself or herself to be such a professional engineer, either through the use of the term 'professional engineer,' with or without qualifying adjectives, or through the use of some other title implying that he or she is such a professional engineer." But, nowhere did the Act of 1927 (prior to the amendment of May 23, 1945, P.L. 923) specifically define the "practice of engineering". That can only be derived from ...


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