Appeal, No. 382, Jan. T., 1962, from order of Court of Common Pleas No. 2 of Philadelphia County, Dec. T., 1961, No. 2416, in case of Edgar R. Einhorn, escheator of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, v. Philadelphia Electric Company. Order affirmed.
Michael Edelman, for appellant.
Harold E. Kohn, with him William T. Coleman, Jr., Bruce W. Kauffman, Samuel Graff Miller, Vincent P. McDevitt, and Dilworth, Paxson, Kalish, Kohn & Dilks, for appellee.
Before Bell, C.j., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'brien and Roberts, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS
Appellant, an escheator of the Commonwealth, filed a petition for depositions, discovery and inspection,*fn1 in
the Court of Common Pleas No. 2 of Philadelphia County, naming appellee, Philadelphia Electric Company [Company] as respondent. The Company is a public utility engaged in furnishing electricity to the public at rates fixed in tariffs filed by it with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission [Commission].
The information sought, appellant averred, was relevant to escheat and would substantially aid in the preparation of the pleadings in such proceedings. The funds which appellant seeks to escheat*fn2 involve various sums of money received by the Company (more than seven years previously) from certain of its customers (or their contractors) for work performed in the installation of underground electric service-supply lines, at rates alleged to be higher than permitted under Company tariffs filed with the Commission.*fn3 The Company filed preliminary objections and a motion for a protective order, asserting, inter alia, that: (1) jurisdiction to determine the validity of tariffs and their application to particular charges is vested exclusively in the Commission; (2) the petition reveals it is not seeking property subject to escheat, and (3) the discovery
sought could not substantially aid in the preparation of pleadings for any proceedings for escheat. The court, after a hearing on the petition, the preliminary objections, the motion and the answer thereto, sustained the preliminary objections and dismissed the petition for discovery. From that action, this appeal is taken.
Appellant's position is that the Company, in installing underground electric service facilities for certain customers, had "overcharged" by requiring and receiving payments representing more than "the excess costs" permitted for such installations in its filed tariff. It is contended that the Company was without legal authority to receive and customers to pay these overcharges, and that the excess charges constitute property without lawful owner and, therefore, are escheatable to the Commonwealth. The escheator asserts also, that since he is without knowledge or information as to the amount of such overcharges or the identity of customers from whom they were ...