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MOONEY v. TEMPLE UNIVERSITY BOARD TRUSTEES (01/13/72)

decided: January 13, 1972.

MOONEY, ET AL.
v.
TEMPLE UNIVERSITY BOARD OF TRUSTEES, ET AL.



Original jurisdiction.

COUNSEL

William T. Hangley, with him William H. Ewing and Ewing & Cohen, for plaintiffs.

Michael Churchill, with him Peter Platten and Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, for defendants.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Manderino, Mencer and Rogers. Judge Manderino did not participate in the decision. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 4 Pa. Commw. Page 393]

We have before us an amended complaint in trespass filed by plaintiffs alleging that the refusal of the Board of Trustees to furnish detailed financial information to the plaintiffs violated the plaintiffs' rights under the Pennsylvania Right To Know Law*fn1 and under Common Law. Plaintiffs are students at the University, a member of the University's teaching faculty, and, through its guardian ad litem, the Student Senate of the University. Defendants are Temple University, its Board of Trustees and several individual members thereof, and a Vice President of the University who is Secretary of the Board of Trustees.

Plaintiffs specifically seek a judgment requiring defendants to make public certain detailed financial information regarding the operation of the University, the University's itemized budget, and the minutes of the meetings of the Board of Trustees and subcommittees thereof. The bases of plaintiffs' complaint are that Temple University is a state agency and must divulge its public records under the Pennsylvania Right To Know Act and further that there is a common law right

[ 4 Pa. Commw. Page 394]

    to investigate and participate in the operations of the Board of Trustees.

Defendants filed preliminary objections to the amended complaint alleging, inter alia, lack of subject matter jurisdiction. We hold that the preliminary objections must be sustained.

Jurisdiction over actions brought to enforce rights granted under the Right To Know Act is given this Court by Section 508(a)(90) of the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act of July 31, 1970, P.L. , 17 P.S. § 211.508(a)(90). Temple University, however, cannot be included in that group of agencies of the Commonwealth whose public records are to be available for examination.

Temple University was statutorily established as an "instrumentality of the Commonwealth" by the Temple University-Commonwealth Act, Act of November 30, 1965, P.L. 843, 24 P.S. §§ 2510(1-12). The question before us is whether the Legislature by so naming Temple as an "instrumentality of the Commonwealth" has subjected that institution to the Right To Know Act and has made Temple's officials "officers of the Commonwealth."

The Right To Know Act defines "Agency" for the purposes of that Act as "Any department, board or commission of the executive branch of the Commonwealth, any political subdivision of the Commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, or any State or municipal authority or similar organization created by or pursuant to a statute which declares in substance that such organization ...


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