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GUTHAN v. PHILADELPHIA (01/15/69)

decided: January 15, 1969.

GUTHAN
v.
PHILADELPHIA, APPELLANT



Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, No. 3933 of 1968, in case of Edward E. Guthan et al. v. City of Philadelphia.

COUNSEL

Matthew W. Bullock, Jr., Second Deputy City Solicitor, with him Nicholas M. D'Alessandro, Assistant City Solicitor, and Edward G. Bauer, Jr., City Solicitor, for City of Philadelphia, appellant.

I. B. Sinclair, with him Bell, Pugh, Sinclair and Prodoehl, for appellees.

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

Author: Eagen

[ 433 Pa. Page 264]

This action in equity against the City of Philadelphia was instituted in Delaware County. Preliminary objections to the complaint challenging proper venue were overruled in the court below, and the City of Philadelphia appeals.*fn1

The plaintiffs are owners of properties in Delaware County. The properties are located near the Philadelphia International Airport which is owned and operated by the City of Philadelphia. Plaintiffs allege that the Airport is partially located in Delaware County and that certain flight patterns utilized by planes using the Airport are causing a dangerous menace and nuisance to their properties and lives. They ask that these flight patterns be enjoined. They also seek to enjoin the construction of a new runway, part of which is located in Delaware County.

The Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule No. 2103(b) provides that: "An action against a political subdivision may be brought in and only in the county in which the political subdivision is located." (Emphasis added.) But the plaintiffs argue that since the City of Philadelphia owns and uses the property located in Delaware County, it (the City of Philadelphia)

[ 433 Pa. Page 265]

    is therefore located in Delaware County. We reject this reasoning.

The ownership of Delaware County land by the City of Philadelphia does not cause the political subdivision of Philadelphia to be located in Delaware County. Rule 2103(b) speaks of political subdivisions, not geographical or record-title subdivisions. The very service or process on the City of Philadelphia in this action indicates that the political subdivision known as Philadelphia is independent of and distinct from Delaware County.*fn2

Rule 2103(b) says that "an action against a political subdivision may be brought in and only in the County (not the counties) in which the political subdivision is located." (Emphasis added.) By implication, a political subdivision, as the term is used in Rule 2103(b), can be located in only one county. And the fact and extent of land ownership are not the deciding factors in locating a political subdivision. Quite to the contrary, a political subdivision is an area set out by the lines of governmental powers and jurisdiction. Philadelphia is governmentally impotent in Delaware County, and the clear ...


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