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BEFWICK PHILADELPHIA v. COBBLESTONES (08/04/75)

decided: August 4, 1975.

BEFWICK OF PHILADELPHIA, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
COBBLESTONES, INC. AND PENNSYLVANIA LIQUOR CONTROL BOARD, DEFENDANTS



Original jurisdiction in case of Befwick of Philadelphia, Inc. v. Cobblestones, Inc. and Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

COUNSEL

Paul Auerbach, for plaintiff.

Ronald H. Surkin, with him Abraham Levinson, and Blank, Rome, Klaus & Comisky, for defendant, Cobblestones, Inc.

J. Leonard Langan, Assistant Attorney General, with him Mark N. Cohen, for defendant, Liquor Control Board.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers and Blatt. Judge Mencer did not participate. Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Blatt

[ 20 Pa. Commw. Page 614]

Befwick of Philadelphia, Inc. (Befwick) initiated this suit in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County by filing a complaint in equity in May of 1974 against Cobblestones, Inc. (Cobblestones) and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (Board). Their complaint alleges that in August of 1973, Befwick, the holder of a restaurant liquor license, entered into an agreement with Cobblestones for the sale of the license, and a copy of that agreement is attached to the complaint. According to the terms of the agreement Befwick, the seller, claims to have had the right to cancel the agreement if the Board did not approve the license transfer by December 31, 1973. The complaint further alleges that the transfer was not approved by that deadline and that Befwick on January 7, 1974 exercised its right to void the sale by

[ 20 Pa. Commw. Page 615]

    so notifying Cobblestones of its intention. Nevertheless, the Board on January 29, 1974 allegedly approved the transfer. By means of this lawsuit, therefore, Befwick requests the following equitable relief:

". . . that judgment be entered in favor of Befwick of Philadelphia, Inc. and this Honorable Court order the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to revoke the erroneous transfer to Cobblestones, Inc. and record Befwick of Philadelphia, Inc. as the owner and/or order Cobblestones, Inc. to execute all necessary papers and undertake all necessary procedures to transfer the license back to Befwick of Philadelphia, Inc. at the sole expense of Cobblestones, Inc. and/or such other order as this Honorable Court shall deem fair and equitable including money damages for lost profits and the unjust enrichment of Cobblestones, Inc. together with punitive damages, attorney fees and costs against Cobblestones, Inc."

Both defendants filed separate preliminary objections to the complaint. Cobblestones asserted that the plaintiff has an adequate remedy at law for damages. The Board, on the other hand, argued that exclusive jurisdiction for actions against it is vested in the Commonwealth Court, pursuant to Section 401 et seq. of the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act of 1970, Act of July 31, 1970, P.L. 673, 17 P.S. ยง 211.401 et seq. Judge Kalish of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County transferred the matter to this Court on June 27, 1974 and on March 31, 1975 we heard arguments concerning the outstanding preliminary objections of Cobblestones.

We must reluctantly conclude that the plaintiff has improperly attempted to invoke the jurisdiction of equity against the Board in this suit, for it is apparent that an adequate statutory remedy is available within the administrative process to enable the plaintiff to pursue the relief which it seeks against the ...


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