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CHRISTINE ANN ZERBY v. DEPARTMENT TRANSPORTATION (10/03/75)

decided: October 3, 1975.

CHRISTINE ANN ZERBY, APPELLANT,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AND DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEES



COUNSEL

Seymour Kanter, Jerome S. Sloan, Kanter, Bernstein & Miller, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Stuart J. Moskovitz, Dept. of Transp., Harrisburg, Edward R. Casey, Asst. Atty. Gen., Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Atty. Gen., Israel Packel, Atty. Gen., for appellee, Dept. of Transportation, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Roberts, J., filed a dissenting opinion. Manderino, J., filed a dissenting opinion. Nix, J., dissents.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 464 Pa. Page 422]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Order of Commonwealth Court affirmed. See Brown v. Commonwealth, 453 Pa. 566, 305 A.2d 868 (1973); see

[ 464 Pa. Page 423]

    also Biello v. Pa. Liquor Control Bd., 454 Pa. 179, 301 A.2d 849 (1973).

ROBERTS, Justice (dissenting).

On November 9, 1971, appellant was driving her automobile on a highway maintained by the Department of Transportation when her vehicle skidded on a patch of ice and collided with another automobile. Appellant suffered serious bodily injuries in this accident.

Asserting that the accident resulted from the negligent failure of the Department of Transportation to maintain the highway properly, appellant brought an action in trespass in the Commonwealth Court against appellees Department of Transportation and Department of Justice. Appellees filed preliminary objections in which they asserted that recovery was barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. The court sustained the preliminary objections and dismissed the action. This appeal ensued.

The majority, by affirming the dismissal of appellant's action, permits the pernicious doctrine of sovereign immunity to deprive yet another litigant of an opportunity to recover damages if she can prove that she was injured by the negligent or otherwise wrongful acts of the Commonwealth. I remain of the view that the doctrine of sovereign immunity serves no societal interest, and that this court may and should consign the doctrine in its entirety to the judicial scrapheap. See e. g., Williams v. Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, 460 Pa. 581, 333 A.2d 924 (1975) (dissenting opinion of ...


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