Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in case of Sylvester Thornton v. George Zamantakis and Bessie Zamantakis, No. H-1657.
J. Stephen Kreglow, with him Brose, Poswistilo, LaBarr & Jacobs, for appellants.
Sanford Kahn, General Counsel, with him Robert Englesberg, Assistant General Counsel, and Israel Packel, Attorney General, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. 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 an Order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (Commission) dated November 27, 1972, in which George Zamantakis and Bessie Zamantakis, his wife (collectively referred to as Zamantakis) were ordered to cease and desist from committing any unlawful and discriminatory practices as defined in Section 5(h)(1) of the Pennsylvania
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Human Relations Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act), Act of October 27, 1955, P.L. 744, as amended, 43 P.S. § 955(h)(1).*fn1 Zamantakis was also ordered by the Commission to pay to Sylvester Thornton and Willis Thornton*fn2 (Thorntons) "the sum of $250.00 [each] in order to compensate them for the mental anguish and humiliation which they experienced as a result of the [Zamantakis'] unlawful discriminatory practices."
In appealing to this Court, Zamantakis has presented only the question whether the Commonwealth committed an error of law by going beyond the scope of its statutory authority in awarding compensatory damages to the Thorntons in the stated sums for "mental anguish and humiliation." Zamantakis has not appealed from the findings and conclusions of the Commission that Zamantakis committed an unlawful discriminatory practice in violation of the Act.
The facts are not in dispute. Zamantakis owned and operated an apartment house, and advertised in a local newspaper for the rental of a four-room apartment as follows: "Folk St. -- 4 rooms and bath, air conditioning,
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wall-to-wall carpeting, $130 plus utilities. Adults. 252-3836." Without going into any great detail, we need only say that the record supports the Commission's findings that Zamantakis refused to rent the advertised apartment to the Thorntons because of their race and sex. Among the 22 findings of fact by the Commission, No. 17 is pertinent to this Opinion, and it reads as follows: "17. Realizing that they were being denied the opportunity to rent the apartment in question in part at least because of their race, the Thorntons felt humiliated. Mr. Willis Thornton, who had recently returned from Vietnam, was, in fact, quite upset to find that the freedom for which he had fought was being denied him here in the United States." In the Commission's conclusions of law, we find: "3. The Complainants, Sylvester and Willis Thornton, are each entitled to receive compensation from the Respondents for the mental anguish and humiliation which they experienced as the result of the discriminatory treatment inflicted upon them." The two paragraphs of the Commission's Order which are before us read as follows:
"2. That the Respondents, George Zamantakis and Bessie Zamantakis pay to each of the Complainants the sum of $250.00 in order to compensate them for the mental anguish and humiliation which they experienced as a result of the Respondents' unlawful discriminatory practices.
"3. Payment of the above amount shall be paid by the Respondents George Zamantakis and Bessie Zamantakis, within 30 days from the date of this Order with interest to accumulate at the rate of 6 per cent per annum in the event said sum is not paid during this period."
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.
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§ 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).*fn3 In view of the fact that Zamantakis has raised only the question of whether the Commission has exceeded its statutory authority in the awarding of compensatory damages, for the purpose of disposition, we need not look to the record to determine whether or not the Commission abused its discretion in its findings of fact.
In support of its contention that it has the statutory power to order compensatory damages, the Commission points to Section 9 of the Act, 43 P.S. ...