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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DAVID V. RODGERS (07/22/75)

decided: July 22, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF TRAFFIC SAFETY
v.
DAVID V. RODGERS, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. David V. Rodgers, No. 215 Misc. Term, 1974.

COUNSEL

William H. Mitman, Jr., for appellant.

John L. Heaton, Assistant Attorney General, with him Anthony J. Maiorana, Assistant Attorney General, Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for appellee.

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

Author: Wilkinson

[ 20 Pa. Commw. Page 395]

This is an appeal from the ruling of the lower court upholding the action of the Secretary of Transportation (Secretary) suspending appellant's Pennsylvania operator's license and vehicle registrations under the provisions of Article XIV (Motor Safety Responsibility, more commonly referred to as "financial responsibility" laws) of the Vehicle Code, Act of April 29, 1959, as amended, 75 P.S. § 1401 et seq.

The facts show that appellant was involved in a single car motor vehicle accident on July 31, 1971, in Denver, Colorado. Thereafter, Duane Alger and Barbara Alger t/a Dunkin' Donuts brought suit against appellant and against the owner of the vehicle in the El Paso County (Colorado) District Court. Appellant alleges that he never received any notice of this action other than the notice from the Secretary. In any case, on September 25, 1973, a default judgment was entered against appellant in the amount of $2300.00 plus costs in the Colorado court. In accordance with Colorado law, this judgment, which was and remains unsatisfied to any extent, was certified

[ 20 Pa. Commw. Page 396]

    to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.*fn1 On September 4, 1974, the Secretary notified appellant that his license and vehicle registration would be suspended effective October 4, 1974, under the authority of Section 1413 of The Vehicle Code, 75 P.S. § 1413, for failure to satisfy the Colorado judgment and failure to furnish proof of financial responsibility. Section 1413 reads in part as follows:

"(a) The secretary, upon receipt of a certified copy of a judgment, shall forthwith suspend the license and registration of any resident operator or owner and any nonresident's operating privilege of any person against whom such judgment was rendered, except as hereinafter otherwise provided in this section and in section 1416."

Appellant appealed to the Chester County Court of Common Pleas which court, on December 20, 1974, affirmed the Secretary's action on the basis that "[a] judgment regularly entered by a sister state having general jurisdiction is entitled to full faith and credit in Pennsylvania".

Appellant raises three issues on appeal here. The first two issues question the authority of the Secretary to act under Section 1405 of The Vehicle Code, 75 P.S. § 1405, which is a section dealing with reciprocity. In this case, the Secretary acted under only Section 1413, not under Section 1405, and, therefore, those issues are not properly before us. Furthermore, Section 1405 is limited in its application to suspensions under Section 1404 for failure to post security for possible future judgments as will be more fully discussed hereinafter.

Appellant's main argument is that a suspension under Section 1413 for the nonpayment of a default judgment arising out of a motor vehicle accident violates appellant's ...


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