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RYDAL-MEADOWBROOK ASSOCIATION v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION ET AL. (07/14/53)

July 14, 1953

RYDAL-MEADOWBROOK ASSOCIATION
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION ET AL.



COUNSEL

Daniel B. Michie, Jr., and Fell & Spalding, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Clarence M. Freedman, John E. Fullerton, Asst. Counsel, and Lloyd S. Benjamin, Counsel, Pa. Public Utility Comm., Harrisburg, for appellee.

Allen Lesley, Philadelphia, for Reading Co., intervening appellee.

Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Dithrich, Ross, Gunther, and Wright, JJ.

Author: Rhodes

[ 173 Pa. Super. Page 383]

RHODES, President Judge.

This is an appeal from an order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission granting Reading Company, a railroad corporation, the right to change the status of its suburban railroad passenger and freight station at Meadowbrook, Abington Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, from an agency station to a prepaid or non-agency station.

The Company filed its application seeking such change with the Commission on June 9, 1951. Among those who filed protests were Rydal-Meadowbrook Civic Association, a non-profit corporation, the Order of Railroad Telegraphers, System Division No. 10, and a number of individual residents of the area. Commission hearings were held at which both applicant and protestants presented extensive evidence. The Association was represented by counsel before the Commission.

On September 22, 1952, the Commission by its order approved the application of the Company to change Meadowbrook station to a non-agency status. The Association, acting through counsel, appealed to this Court, and at the same time petitioned to have the appeal operate as a supersedeas. After hearing, the supersedeas was refused. The Company was granted leave to intervene as an appellee, and filed a motion to quash the appeal. The motion to quash and the merits of the appeal were argued at the same time.

The Company's motion to quash is based on the contention that the Association is not a qualified appellant. The right of appeal from an order of the Commission is limited to a party to the proceedings affected thereby. Arsenal Board of Trade v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, 166 Pa. Super. 548, 552, 72 A.2d 612; Commuters' Committee v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, 170 Pa. Super. 596, 599, 88 A.2d 420. As an appellant the Association is

[ 173 Pa. Super. Page 384]

    in a position comparable to that of the Arsenal Board of Trade in the case above cited. It is true that the Association, acting through counsel, appeared before the Commission and participated in the proceedings, and that it exists as a legal entity in the form of a non-profit corporation. But the question remains, as in the Arsenal Board of Trade case, whether the Association, as a corporation apart from its individual members, had such interest in the proceedings as would make it a party 'affected' by the order of the Commission. Commuters' Committee v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, supra, 170 Pa. Super. 596, 599, 88 A.2d 420.

As we have pointed out in our prior decisions, the party who may take an appeal as a proper party appellant in these cases is determined by well established rules. By adhering to these principles appeals may be taken by parties whose qualifications are not questionable. We are not at liberty to enlarge the field of qualified appellants beyond the established limits. It is plainly in the public interest, however, that users of the utility service be made formal parties to the record in all cases of this type involving questions of community welfare. In Commuters' Committee v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, supra, 170 Pa. Super. 596, 599, 88 A.2d 420, 422, we said: 'An individual using the service rendered by the utility and filing a formal protest with the Commission may very well have such an interest as would make him or her a person affected by the Commission's order.' There should be no difficulty in having at least one user of the utility service ...


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