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LACKEY v. SACOOLAS (06/07/63)

June 7, 1963

LACKEY
v.
SACOOLAS, APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 106 and 107, Jan. T., 1963, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Equity Docket No. 12, page 96, In case of William T. Lackey and Blanch R. Lackey, on behalf of themselves and all other persons similarly situated, v. Nicholas Sacoolas, doing business as Maple Grove Amusement Park and Swimming Pool, and Maple Grove Recreation Association. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

James P. Coho, with him Merrill L. Hassel, for appellants.

Robert L. Pfannebecker, with him Geisenberger, Pfannebecker & Geisenberger, for appellees.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'brien and Roberts, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 411 Pa. Page 236]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

William T. Lackey and Blanch R. Lackey, his wife, members of the colored race, brought an action in equity to restrain Nicholas Sacoolas, doing business as Maple Grove Amusement Park and Swimming Pool, in Lancaster County, from denying to the Lackeys and other persons the privileges of the Maple Grove Swimming Pool because of race, creed or color, in violation of the Act of June 24, 1939, P.L. 872, § 654 (18 P.S.

[ 411 Pa. Page 237]

§ 4654). At the hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction, it developed that an organization known as the Maple Grove Recreation Association was involved in the matter and the plaintiffs moved to amend their complaint to include that organization as an additional defendant. The motion was allowed and, eventually, after a trial on the merits, the chancellor entered a decree enjoining Sacoolas and the Maple Grove Recreation Association from withholding from the plaintiffs "and all other persons similarly situated, the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of the Maple Grove swimming pool and related facilities on account of the race, creed or color of such persons."

The defendants appealed. There can be no doubt that the discrimination specifically prohibited by the Act of 1939, supra, was practised at the Maple Grove Swimming Pool. When the plaintiffs appeared on June 11, 1960, at the swimming pool, ostensibly open to the entire public, they were informed that they could only enjoy the facilities of the establishment after having been accepted as members of the Maple Grove Recreation Association. To that end they were required to make up applications which they duly executed and which in a matter of days were rejected. White persons, on the other hand, entered the pool without any such preliminaries. They paid a 50-cent fee for membership, a membership card was at once forthcoming and they could enter the pool forthwith. The chancellor found, and the evidence supports the finding, that no white person's perfunctory application for membership was ever rejected and that no formal application by a negro was ever approved.

The appellant Sacoolas argues that he has no legal responsibility in this entire transaction because he is merely the owner of the property which he leased to the Maple Grove Recreation Association, a nonprofit

[ 411 Pa. Page 238]

    organization, duly chartered under the laws of the Commonwealth. For a disinterested lessor, Sacoolas is quite busy handling the affairs of the lessee. He maintains and operates the swimming pool, supplies the necessary personnel and covers the business with protective ...


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