It is to afford to local residents access to local courts for suits against nonresident tort-feasors, thereby giving the local residents an opportunity to bring a suit which they could not or would not do otherwise because of the many practical, financial, and geographical obstacles.
'A construction of the statute that limits the word 'operator' to 'driver' would mean that the legislature intended to allow substituted service upon some tortfeasors but not others.
'Assuming the facts of the complaint to be true, as we must, defendant Baker is just as liable as a tortfeasor as the driver Heftye. It seems clear to us that to fulfill the legislative policy, the term 'operator' must be construed to include one such as Baker who neither owned nor drove the accident car but was responsible for its presence on the highways of Pennsylvania.
'The rule of construction in our situation is to give effect to the will of the legislature, and there is no evidence that the legislature intended to discriminate in favor of any class of nonresident tortfeasors who through the operation of a motor vehicle in Pennsylvania become legally responsible to Pennsylvania citizens. * * *'
Defendant cites several lower State court cases such as Stouffer v. Eastern Motor Dispatch, Inc., 80 D. & C. 30 (1951), and Burns v. Philadelphia Transportation Co., Inc., 44 D. & C. 654 (1942), in support of its position. These are the cases which the Court of Appeals in the Eckman case cited and refused to follow. Moreover, the Legislature of Pennsylvania fully approved the Court of Appeal's interpretation of the legislative intent when by the Act of November 10, 1959, it amended the foregoing to read:
'* * * any nonresident of this Commonwealth, being the operator or owner of any motor vehicle, or being a person in whose behalf a motor vehicle is being operated whether or not such person is the operator or owner, who shall accept the privilege extended by the laws of this Commonwealth to nonresident operators and owners of operating a motor vehicle, * * *.'
Defendant, by this motion, is attempting to have this Court decide an important controverted factual issue as to the relationship and respective responsibilities and liabilities of the owner, lessee and driver. Whether or not there is tort liability on the plaintiff, is an issue on which the full facts are yet to be developed. which the full facts are yet to be developed.
As to the service of process on the owner, it was certainly within the scope of the Act.
Accordingly, the motion of the defendant, Leasit System, Inc., to dismiss the action or in lieu thereof to quash the return of service is denied.
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