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MORRIS v. MOUNT LEBANON TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT. (09/29/58)

September 29, 1958

MORRIS, APPELLANT,
v.
MOUNT LEBANON TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT.



Appeal, No. 64, March T., 1958, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Oct. T., 1955, No. 272, in case of Howard D. Morris, administrator of estate of Constance Morris, deceased, et al. v. The School District of the Township of Mount Lebanon. Order reversed.

COUNSEL

Owen b. McManus, Jr., with him Brandt, Riester, Brandt & Malone, for appellants.

H. A. Robinson, with him Clifford J. Koerth, Samuel A. Schreiner, and Dickie, McCamey, Chilcote & Robinson, for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno, Arnold, Jones and Cohen, JJ.

Author: Cohen

[ 393 Pa. Page 634]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE COHEN

For purposes of this appeal the following allegations are assumed to be true:

In the summer of 1953 the School District of the Township of Mount Lebanon conducted a recreation program open to the general public upon the payment of an admission fee. The program, which was not a part of the regular school curriculum, consisted of those activities normal to a summer day-camp, including

[ 393 Pa. Page 635]

    arts and crafts, dancing and swimming. Plaintiff's minor decedent, Constance Morris, was duly enrolled in this recreation program upon payment by her parents of the weekly charges. On July 30, Constance drowned while playing in the water of the swimming pool. The failure of the defendant's employees in charge to give proper supervision and the rough and disorderly play in the water of those employees and others was alleged by Constance's father, the administrator of her estate, as the basis for the present action against the school district for wrongful death. Preliminary objections setting up the defense of the immunity of a governmental agency from tort liability were filed by the school district. The court below, en banc, sustained this objection and dismissed the complaint. Plaintiff has now appealed.

The doctrine of sovereign immunity and its application to local government law need not detain us here. The errors of history, logic and policy which were responsible for the development of this concept have been clearly exposed,*fn1 and thoroughly criticized.*fn2 Nevertheless, the solution of the problem of government responsibility in tort is too complex an undertaking to permit the partial and piecemeal judicial reform which the plaintiff seeks. Establishment of a comprehensive

[ 393 Pa. Page 636]

    program by legislation applicable to the Commonwealth and to all of its sub-divisions is sorely needed to deal effectively with tort claims arising out ...


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