Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, No. 63-393, in case of Lee Sherman Sharp v. Valley Forge Medical Center and Heart Hospital, Inc., Joseph B. Wolffe, Evelyn Wolffe et al.
James F. McCort, with him Peter P. Zion, for appellant.
Lawrence A. Brown, with him Duffy, McTighe & McElhone, for appellee.
Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Cohen, Eagen and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen.
This is an appeal from an order below striking off a default judgment entered against one of the defendants in a malpractice action for failure to file an appearance. The determinative issue is the validity of the service of process upon the defendant involved, Alfredo Mallinedo.
Mallinedo formerly practiced medicine in Bolivia. He is not licensed to practice in Pennsylvania and is, and has been, employed for several years in a capacity
similar to that of an intern at the Valley Forge Medical Center.
Suit was instituted by the filing of a complaint. Service on Mallinedo was attempted by a deputy sheriff who went to the hospital and left a copy of the complaint with one Virginia Speece, described in the return as "the person for the time being in charge of the place of employment" of the defendant.*fn1
From the testimony submitted to the court below, the following facts were found to be true:
Virginia Speece was employed at the hospital as a file clerk and relieved the operator occasionally at the telephone switchboard. The office, wherein she received a copy of the complaint from the sheriff, was under the supervision of other individuals, but on the morning the sheriff came to the hospital these individuals had not yet reported for work.
Mallinedo is salaried and assists doctors at the hospital in directing minor treatments for patients; carries out instructions given by the staff doctors; and, is permitted to give supervisory instructions to nurses only. He has an office in the hospital building proper. He and his family, like several other employees, live in a rent-free apartment in another building on the hospital grounds. All of his mail and telephone calls are channeled through the hospital. However, he ...