Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in case of Geraldine Cobb and Martha Cobb (deceased) v. St. Andrews Development Co., Inc. d/b/a Governours Place Apartments; Arthur Nemroff, President, and Mary Elliott, Rental Agent, No. H-1627.
Harry B. Goldberg, with him Goldberg, Evans & Katzman, for appellants.
Sanford Kahn, General Counsel, with him Robert Englesberg, Assistant General Counsel, and Israel Packel, Attorney General, for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. President Judge Bowman did not participate. Opinion by Judge Kramer. Concurring Opinion by Judge Blatt. Concurring and Dissenting Opinion by Judge Rogers.
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This is an appeal from a final order, dated December 26, 1972, of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (Commission) in which Arthur Nemroff (Nemroff) and Mary Elliott (Elliott) were ordered to cease and desist from committing any unlawful discriminatory practices as defined in Section 5(h) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, Act of October 27, 1955, P.L. 744, as amended, 43 P.S. § 955(h), in renting or offering to rent any apartment unit or units under their control. They were also ordered to cease and desist from utilizing a financial criterion, in a discriminatory manner, in the leasing of apartments. Nemroff was ordered to pay to Geraldine Cobb the sum of $750 to compensate her for mental anguish, humiliation and embarrassment, and to the Estate of Martha Cobb, deceased, a sum of $750 as compensation for mental anguish, humiliation and embarrassment she experienced during her lifetime as a result of unlawful discriminatory practices inflicted upon her by Nemroff.
The pertinent facts are that Martha Cobb (deceased) and her daughter, Geraldine Cobb, then a minor of the age of 20 years,*fn1 on November 4, 1971, made application
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with the St. Andrews Development Company, Inc., trading and doing business as Governours Place Apartments, to rent an apartment for themselves and a minor son (age 6) of Martha Cobb, at a monthly rental of $240. The Governours Place Apartments is a multimillion dollar apartment complex, still under construction at the time of the hearing, but when completed, will contain 130 apartment dwelling units in seven buildings. Nemroff is president of the corporation (St. Andrews), and apparently is the operating official who makes the decisions on whether applications for apartments are approved or disapproved. Elliot is the resident manager of the apartment complex, who shows the apartments and receives applications for same, which applications are sent on to the Philadelphia office of St. Andrews for approval or disapproval. After obtaining the signatures, of both Geraldine and Martha Cobb, to the application, Elliot transmitted the application together with one month's rental to the corporate office of St. Andrews. After several phone calls by Martha Cobb making inquiry about the status of their application, she received a letter on November 24, 1971, advising her that her application was not accepted and refunding to her the one month's rental. Prior to that letter, on November 15, 1971, Martha Cobb signed a complaint against St. Andrews, Nemroff and Elliot alleging that she had been refused the opportunity to rent an apartment in the Governours Place complex "because of her race, Negro." On December 14, 1971, at the request of officials of the Commission, Nemroff met with them to discuss the complaint. On January 21, 1972 (the record also states January 27, 1972), Martha Cobb died. On February 11, 1972, Geraldine Cobb signed an amended complaint wherein she appeared, for the first time, as a complainant; and whereon a notation was made that Martha Cobb was
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deceased. The amended complaint alleges an unlawful discriminatory practice took place "on or about November 15, 1971" and alleges a violation of "Section 5(h)(1) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act." The record discloses that at the time of the hearing, three applications of non-whites had been submitted to St. Andrews for apartments at Governours Place. One was from a Black-Chinese couple, whose application was approved, another involved a Black school teacher, whose income did not meet the financial criterion established for tenants in Governours Place, and the third was the Cobb application.
As stated in the Act (43 P.S. § 960), our scope of review is governed by the Administrative Agency Law, Act of June 4, 1945, P.L. 1388, as amended, 71 P.S. § 1710.1 et seq. whereby we are to determine whether the Commission's adjudication "is not in accordance with law" or whether "any finding of fact made by the agency and necessary to support its adjudication is not supported by substantial evidence." See also Wilkinsburg School District v. Human Relations Commission, 6 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 378, 295 A.2d 609 (1972); Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission v. Chester School District, 209 Pa. Superior Ct. 37, 224 A.2d 811 (1966).*fn2 We also note that simultaneously with the filing of this opinion, we have filed two other opinions in related matters. They are Zamantakis v. Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, No. 1300 C.D. 1972 and Straw v. Human Relations Commission, No. 16 C.D. 1973. When defining substantial evidence, this Court has said ...