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PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY v. HUGHART (ET AL. (09/27/66)

decided: September 27, 1966.

PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY
v.
HUGHART (ET AL., APPELLANTS)



Appeals from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1962, Nos. 626 and 2582, in case of The Pennsylvania Railroad Company v. Charles Hughart, an individual, and Chemical Tank Lines, Inc.; and Sebastian R. Betasso v. The Pennsylvania Railroad Company, Charles H. Hughart and Chemical Tank Lines, Inc.

COUNSEL

Thomas N. Griggs, with him John A. Robb and Paul K. Hirsch, for appellants.

Carl E. Glock, with him Gilbert J. Helwig, James H. McConomy, and Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellees.

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

Author: Roberts

[ 422 Pa. Page 616]

This appeal presents the single question of the correctness of a ruling refusing appellants' application to intervene in an action pending below and arises out of the following circumstances: Appellee, the Pennsylvania Railroad Co., instituted an action of trespass against Chemical Tank Lines, Inc. to recover damages alleged to have been sustained as the result of a collision between a train and truck owned by the respective parties. A similar suit was instituted against the Railroad by a passenger on the train to recover for personal injuries sustained in the accident. Chemical Tank Lines was joined by the Railroad as an additional defendant and the actions, because of their common background, were consolidated for trial in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.

At trial, appellee, Pennsylvania Railroad, was represented by Michael R. Dougherty, Esq., a member of

[ 422 Pa. Page 617]

    the Bar of this Court and of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, employed in the legal department of the Railroad. Upon the commencement of the proceedings, the court, sua sponte, questioned the propriety of Mr. Dougherty's appearance in the case because of his position as "corporate counsel in the employ of the Railroad." The case was ordered continued and the issue of Mr. Dougherty's appearance in the action referred to the court en banc for decision.

When the matter came before the court en banc, appellants, three lawyers, acting on their own behalf and for all other members of the bar similarly situated, filed a petition for leave to intervene under Pa. R. C. P. 2327, their sole interest in the litigation being limited to the collateral question of Mr. Dougherty's representation of his corporate employer in the action. A hearing was held on the petition at the conclusion of which intervention was refused. This appeal followed.

Pa. R. C. P. 2327 provides: "At any time during the pendency of an action, a person not a party thereto shall be permitted to intervene therein, subject to these rules if (1) the entry of a judgment in such action or the satisfaction of such judgment will impose any liability upon such person to indemnify in whole or in part the party against whom judgment may be entered; or (2) such person is so situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or other disposition of property in the custody of the court or of an officer thereof; or (3) such person could have joined as an original party in the action or could have been joined therein; or (4) the determination of such action may affect any legally enforceable interest of such person whether or not he may be bound by a judgment in the action."

Appellants, recognizing their inability to qualify as intervenors under subsections ...


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