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MARTIN v. PHILADELPHIA (01/04/66)

decided: January 4, 1966.

MARTIN, APPELLANT,
v.
PHILADELPHIA



Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas No. 2 of Philadelphia County, Sept. T., 1964, No. 482, in case of William J. Martin v. City of Philadelphia, James H. J. Tate, Mayor, Alexander Hemphill, City Controller, et al.

COUNSEL

David P. Trulli, with him Joseph A. Monaco, for appellant.

Levy Anderson, First Deputy City Solicitor, with him Hannah M. Cummins, Assistant City Solicitor, and Edward G. Bauer, Jr., City Solicitor, for appellees.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Bell.

Author: Bell

[ 420 Pa. Page 15]

On September 25, 1964, William J. Martin instituted a taxpayer's suit against the City of Philadelphia, seeking to enjoin the City of Philadelphia, James H. J. Tate, the Mayor, Edward G. Bauer, Jr., the City Solicitor, and Alexander Hemphill, the Controller, from engaging in any acts to enforce, or implement Ordinance No. 546 of 1964. This Ordinance authorized a loan of $25,000,000 to build a sports stadium, if the electors consented to the loan at a special referendum. Plaintiff also sought to enjoin the City Commissioners from preparing and distributing the necessary voting equipment and paraphernalia or from taking such other action as required by law for the holding of an election*fn1 to incur any debts or to increase the indebtedness of the City of Philadelphia.*fn2

Defendants filed preliminary objections and amended preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer. The preliminary objections, as amended, were sustained with leave to plaintiff to file an amended complaint. On October 23, 1964, plaintiff filed an amended complaint and defendants filed preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer to this amended complaint. The lower Court sustained the preliminary objections, but gave plaintiff leave to file a second amended complaint.*fn3

[ 420 Pa. Page 16]

On November 16, 1964, plaintiff filed a second amended complaint and defendants again filed preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer. In a decree nisi, the lower Court sustained the preliminary objections and dismissed the complaint, this time without leave to amend. Plaintiff then filed exceptions. The exceptions were dismissed and the Decree dismissing the second amended complaint was made final. Plaintiff thereafter appealed to this Court.

Plaintiff's principal contentions are (1) Equity has jurisdiction to grant appropriate relief (a) to enjoin the unlawful expenditure of public funds and also (b) to enjoin an unlawful increase of the City's indebtedness; and (2) Ordinance No. 546 of 1964 is contrary to (a) the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter, and (b) to the Constitution of Pennsylvania, and (c) to several statutes, because it authorizes an increase of the indebtedness of the City of Philadelphia for the purpose of building a sports stadium for use by private enterprise.

Equitable Jurisdiction

There can be no doubt that plaintiff has a right and a standing to bring this suit, and that Equity has jurisdiction of such a complaint irrespective of whether it ...


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