Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas No. 8 of Philadelphia County, June T., 1964, No. 4667, in case of City of Philadelphia v. Eli Kirk Price, III, Howard W. Hanson, Jr., Charles J. Ansel et al.
Matthew W. Bullock, Jr., Deputy City Solicitor, with him Yale B. Bernstein, Assistant City Solicitor, and Edward G. Bauer, Jr., City Solicitor, for City of Philadelphia, appellant.
Gordon W. Gerber, with him Dechert, Price & Rhoads, for appellee.
Otis W. Erisman, with him Truscott, Kline & Erisman, for appellee.
John J. Lombard, Jr., with him Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell & Hippel, for appellee.
Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones.
This is an appeal from a decree entered by Judge Spaeth of the Court of Common Pleas No. 8 of Philadelphia County, a motion of the City of Philadelphia (City) to take off the non-suit having been denied.
On May 15, 1964, Lawrence Moy, a person of Chinese descent, filed a complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (the Commission), charging that Eli Kirk Price, III and Howard Hanson, Jr., Price's real estate agent, had refused on racial grounds to sell him and his wife, Irene Moy, Price's property located at 117 Bethlehem Pike, Philadelphia, in violation of the Fair Practices Ordinance, § 9-1104 (A) (1) of the Philadelphia Code. The alleged discrimination against Moy took place on May 11, 1964, the very same day that Price entered into an agreement to sell his property to Hanson. On June 15, 1964, Hanson, in turn, agreed in writing to sell the premises to Charles J. Ansel and his wife, Helen M. Ansel.
After an investigation and full hearing, the Commission issued an order on August 7, 1964, finding that both Price and Hanson had illegally discriminated against the Moys by reason of their Oriental descent
and directing Price and Hanson to enter into an agreement of sale with the Moys for 117 Bethlehem Pike within three days. On August 10, 1964, Price informed the Commission that he refused to comply with the order, citing as one of his reasons the institution of a legal action on the same day -- August 10, 1964 -- by the Ansels for specific performance of the Price-Hanson and Hanson-Ansel sales agreements.
As required by § 9-1108 of the Philadelphia Code, the City brought a suit in equity to enforce the Commission's order against Price, Hanson, and the Ansels. On April 13, 1965, Judge Spaeth, of the Court of Common Pleas No. 8 of Philadelphia County, dismissed the City's petition and rule to show cause why the order of the Commission should not be reviewed by the chancellor as on narrow certiorari, sustained the defendants' objections to the admission into evidence of the record of the Commission and set the cause down for trial de novo.
At the trial, the City introduced no substantive evidence apart from offering the record of the Commission's proceedings. Defendants' motion for non-suit was, therefore, granted and plaintiff's subsequent motion to take off the non-suit was denied. The City then appealed to this Court.
The City's arguments can be broken down into two main contentions, both procedural in nature : (1) that the failure of defendants to appeal from the order of the Commission prevents them from attacking collaterally that order in an enforcement proceeding and (2) that the Fair Practices Ordinance, § 9-1101 et seq., of the ...