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PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE COMMISSION v. SANDERS & THOMAS (04/17/75)

decided: April 17, 1975.

THE PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE COMMISSION, APPELLANT,
v.
SANDERS & THOMAS, INC., APPELLEE



COUNSEL

Kenneth M. Cushman, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Gilbert Stein, Marvin Comisky, Blank, Rome, Klaus & Comisky, Alan C. Gershenson, William E. Taylor, III, Philadelphia, for Sanders & Thomas, Inc., appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Roberts, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Pomeroy

[ 461 Pa. Page 424]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On June 30, 1969, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission [hereinafter the "Commission"] and Sanders & Thomas, Inc. [hereinafter "S & T"] entered into a written contract under the terms of which S & T was to complete plans and specifications in connection with the construction of toll collection facilities at several interchanges on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The contract contained the following arbitration provision:

"All questions or disputes respecting any matter pertaining to or arising out of this agreement or any part thereof or any breach thereof shall be referred to a Board of Arbitration acting under the provisions of the Act of April 25, 1927, P.L. 381, as amended, consisting of a representative selected by each of the parties hereto and a third Arbitrator selected by them. In the event that the two Arbitrators selected by the parties are unable to agree as to the third Arbitrator, such third Arbitrator shall be designated by the American Arbitration Association."

During the course of performance of the contract disputes arose as to the amount of compensation to which S & T was entitled. These disputes culminated in the refusal of the Commission to pay S & T's final bill of $557,536.14, whereupon S & T demanded arbitration in accordance with the contract. A board of arbitrators was selected, and hearings were conducted by the arbitrators

[ 461 Pa. Page 425]

    on March 22 and 23, 1973. On the latter date the arbitrators unanimously awarded to S & T the sum of $557,474 together with interest thereon computed at a rate of six per cent. per annum from March 1, 1972.

The Commission then filed in the Commonwealth Court*fn1 a petition to vacate, or, in the alternative, to modify the award.*fn2 In this petition the Commission asserted that the arbitrators lacked the authority to decide the matters submitted to them and that the arbitrators had made various errors in conducting the proceedings and in computing the award. The Commonwealth Court resolved all questions against the Commission, affirmed the award and entered judgment in favor of S & T. 12 Pa. Commw. 145, 316 A.2d 127 (1970). This appeal followed.*fn3

In this Court the Commission has narrowed its challenge to the arbitration award to two issues: whether the arbitrators had the authority to decide the questions presented to them, and whether the arbitrators erred in fixing March 1, 1972, a date which preceded the ...


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