Raymond C. Schlegel, Francis F. Seidel, III, Balmer, Mogel, Speidel, & Roland, Reading, for appellant.
Kenneth M. Cushman, Bruce W. Ficken, Philadelphia, David M. Kozloff, Reading, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ.
The basic question for decision in these appeals is whether certain disputes which have arisen under a construction contract between the parties are to be submitted to arbitration, or must be ligitated. The lower court held that the contract required arbitration, and we affirm.
Procedurally the point at issue was raised in the trial court in two ways. The first was by a complaint in equity by the appellant, Muhlenberg Township School District Authority (herein "the Authority") seeking
to enjoin appellee construction company (herein "the contractor") from seeking arbitration with respect to the matters in dispute on the ground that they were not arbitrable under the contract. To this the contractor filed preliminary objections, one of which was in the nature of a demurrer. While these were pending, the contractor also filed a petition under the Act of April 25, 1927, P.L. 381, § 3, 5 P.S. § 163 (1963) to compel arbitration, to which an answer was duly filed by the Authority. The two matters were consolidated for argument, following which the trial court entered, in the equity suit, a decree sustaining the preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer and dismissing the complaint, and, in the law action, an order making absolute a rule to show cause why arbitration should not be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Act of 1927.*fn1 By a later order the court consolidated the records in the two proceedings for the purposes of this appeal. As the court in its opinion correctly observed, either both orders were correct or both were in error, since the central issue in both proceedings was whether arbitration could be compelled. As did the trial court, we also therefore treat the two cases as one on these appeals.*fn2
Turning to the contract, the first two sections of Article 22 provide as follows:
"1. Should either party to this Contract suffer damage in any manner because of any wrongful act or neglect of the other party or of anyone employed by him, then he shall be reimbursed by the other party for such damages.
"2. Claims under this clause shall be made in writing to the party liable within a reasonable time at the first observance of such damage and not later than the time of final payment, except as expressly stipulated otherwise in the case of faulty work or ...