Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in case of Lawrence R. Stoltz, James H. J. Tate, Joseph Tracy and Harold E. Kohn v. James C. McConnon, William R. Eaton and Joseph T. Mack, No. 4597 December Term, 1974. Complaint in equity seeking to enjoin implementation of resolutions. Complaint dismissed. Cavanaugh, J. Plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Transferred to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, March 10, 1975. Held: Reversed and remanded.
Lewis H. Van Dusen, Jr., with him Drinker, Biddle & Reath for Authority, Baberick, McDevitt, Ottey, Roach, Schuster, Shirley, Toewe, Warburton, Main LaFrentz & Co., McConnon, Eaton and Mack.
Harold E. Kohn, P.A., with him Robert A. Swift, for Stoltz, Tate, Tracy and Kohn.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.
[ 18 Pa. Commw. Page 548]
In two of these three cases consolidated for argument, the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Court over the cause of action asserted is in issue; one by way of appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, which concluded that this Court has original exclusive jurisdiction over that action in equity brought against the chairman, general manager and treasurer of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA);*fn1 the second by way of preliminary objections to a declaratory judgment action brought in this Court by SEPTA, certain of its board members, officers and consultants against another member of the SEPTA board.*fn2 In the third case,*fn3 an action in equity brought in this Court, the plaintiffs are the appellant-plaintiffs in the first mentioned case before us by way of appeal, while the defendants are the appellee-defendants in that case.
Defendants in this third case do not question the jurisdiction of this Court, as this is the position they
[ 18 Pa. Commw. Page 549]
asserted and won before the lower court in the first case. In disposing of all three cases, we must, nevertheless, pass upon our jurisdiction as to this particular case.
Underlying this jurisdictional morass, the substantive issue in all three cases are concerned with the internal operations of SEPTA and the vote necessary to effectuate action by its board of directors, an issue we can meet only if the Commonwealth Court enjoys jurisdiction over the causes of action asserted.
SEPTA was created pursuant to the provisions of the Metropolitan Transportation Authorities Act of 1963, Act of August 14, 1963, P.L. 984, 66 P.S. § 2001 et seq. Its metropolitan area encompasses the City of Philadelphia and adjoining counties. Thus, its structure and operating territory are multi-county.
Does this fact or do relevant provisions of the enabling statute afford reason to distinguish these cases from our decisions in Levine v. Redevelopment Authority of the City of New Castle, 17 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 382, 333 A.2d 190 (1975), holding that a redevelopment authority is a local agency, not a state agency, for the purpose of section 401 of the ACJA;*fn4 and Clearfield Area Housing Corp. v. Hughes, 13 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 96, 318 A.2d 754 (1974), holding that a housing authority is such a local agency, not a state agency, for this same purpose, notwithstanding language to the contrary in the enabling statute?
In our opinion, there is no valid basis for any such distinction. As noted in Levine and Clearfield, section 401 of the ACJA confers exclusive original jurisdiction upon the Commonwealth Court over all actions or proceedings against the Commonwealth or any officer thereof and concurrent original ...