John L. Sweezy, Asst. Gen. Counsel, Gen. State Authority, Michael A. Madar, Gen. State Authority, Harrisburg, for appellant.
James F. Carl, Metzger, Wickersham, Knauss & Erb by James F. Carl and Edward E. Knauss, III, Harrisburg, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ.
On October 1, 1967, The General State Authority [The Authority] entered into a contract of insurance, through
the Pennsylvania Department of Property and Supplies [Department] as "broker",*fn1 with the Planet Insurance Company [Planet]. This policy was to insure a three-story stone structure known as St. John's Dormitory, against loss or damage by fire and extended coverage, to the extent of the actual cash value of the building for the term October 1, 1967, through October 1, 1970.
The building, located on the grounds of the Cresson State Hospital in Cresson, Cambria County, had been acquired in 1962 by The Authority from the Johnstown-Altoona Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. Thereafter on August 11, 1962, The Authority leased this building to the Department under a thirty-year agreement. The Department then assigned its lease to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare for the operation of a welfare facility.
On January 2, 1969, while the contract of insurance was in full force and effect, the Dormitory and its contents were totally destroyed by fire. However, The Authority was unaware of the loss until May 10, 1971, when an official of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare informed The Authority's insurance coordinator concerning the fire. On May 11, 1971, The Authority gave Planet written notice of the loss and, on June 8, 1971, The Authority provided Planet with various fire reports and information pertaining to the claim. On September 29, 1971, Planet gave formal notice that it was denying all liability and payment on the claim by reason of The Authority's failure to meet certain time limitations set forth in the contract of insurance.
Subsequently, on November 11, 1971, suit was commenced in the Commonwealth Court*fn2 by The Authority, to enforce the insurance policy. On March 2, 1973, the Commonwealth Court, in a per curiam memorandum opinion, entered judgment on the pleadings in favor of Planet because The Authority had failed to commence suit ...