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MIDLAND HEIGHTS HOMES v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/07/75)

decided: March 7, 1975.

MIDLAND HEIGHTS HOMES, APPELLANT,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in case of Christine Slappy v. Midland Heights Homes, Docket No. H-1377.

COUNSEL

Joseph M. Stanichak, for appellant.

Katherine Hagg Fein, Assistant General Counsel, with her Sanford Kahn, General Counsel, for appellee.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Mencer. Concurring Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Mencer

[ 17 Pa. Commw. Page 564]

This is an appeal from a January 28, 1974 final order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (Commission), directing Midland Heights Homes (Midland), an association owning and managing an apartment complex in Midland, Pennsylvania, to cease unlawful discriminatory practices in violation of Section 5(h) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, Act of October 27, 1955, P.L. 744, as amended, 43 P.S. § 955(h) (Supp. 1974-1975).*fn1 The Commission also ordered Midland to

[ 17 Pa. Commw. Page 565]

    undertake certain specific affirmative action to effectuate the purposes of the Act.

On March 18, 1970, Christine Slappy filed a complaint with the Commission charging Midland with refusing to rent an apartment to her because of her race. Ms. Slappy is of the black race. Midland filed an answer specifically denying the charge and asserted that its refusal to rent an apartment to complainant was because of her poor credit rating.

On April 26, 1973, a hearing was held before three members of the Commission. Testimony was received in support of the complaint from Ms. Slappy, Florence Waite, Manager of the Credit Bureau of Beaver County, William T. Leavell, a member of the Commission, and Daryl Preffer, a compliance specialist with the Commission. Midland offered one witness, Eston G. Maple, who is the manager and secretary of Midland. The testimony was contradictory both as to whether there was a suitable apartment available at the times Ms. Slappy applied and as to whether Midland's refusal to rent her an apartment was because she was a member of the black race or because of her unfavorable credit rating. The Commission chose to believe and accept the testimony of the complainant and her witnesses and made a determination that Midland had engaged in an unlawful discriminatory practice.

As stated in Section 10 of the Act, 43 P.S. § 960 (Supp. 1974-1975), 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 Wilkinsburg School District v. Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, 6 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 378, 295 A.2d 609 (1972).

[ 17 Pa. Commw. Page 566]

Although on this record, we, if we had been the fact-finders, might have reached a contrary determination, nevertheless, we must conclude that there is sufficient substantial evidence to support the ...


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