Appeal from the Order of the State Board of Funeral Directors in case of In Re: L. Beinhauer & Son Company, dated April 16, 1975.
J. Sherman McLaughlin, with him Johanna G. O'Loughlin, and Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellant.
Edward I. Steckel, Deputy Attorney General, with him Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for appellee.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 23 Pa. Commw. Page 107]
L. Beinhauer & Son Company appeals from an order of the State Board of Funeral Directors (Board) rejecting the licensee's application for two branch office licenses. We affirm.
On June 1, 1921, the appellant corporation received its license to practice undertaking in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. At that time it maintained funeral homes at three separate locations in the City of Pittsburgh: downtown on Sixth Avenue, on the South Side on Bradish Street, and on West Liberty Avenue. The downtown office was subsequently moved twice before it was finally closed down in 1930. The appellant was, therefore, maintaining two places of business when the Act of June 10, 1931, P.L. 485, became effective, Section 13 of which stated in part that "no branch licenses shall hereafter be granted any corporation." The South Side location was used for funerals until 1937 and thereafter strictly as an office until 1955 when it was closed down. In 1952, the West Liberty location was destroyed by fire but it had been rebuilt by 1955 and that location has been the sole place of business of the appellant since 1955.
This action was initiated in July of 1968 when the appellant applied for two branch licenses. Pursuant to the application, the Board conducted hearings at which evidence was received, and it issued an order and adjudication containing findings of fact and conclusions of law and refusing the branch licenses applied for. We must affirm this refusal.
The appellant argues that its operation of the three places of business prior to 1931 entitles it to operate at three locations today, and it is true that Section 13 of the Act of June 10, 1931, P.L. 485, while prohibiting the future issuance of branch licenses to corporations, did
[ 23 Pa. Commw. Page 108]
nevertheless preserve existing activities by corporate licensees. This so-called "grandfather clause" provided:
"The provisions of this act shall not be construed as preventing the conducting of the business or profession of undertaking by a corporation heretofore licensed. . . ."*fn1
In Grime v. Department of Public Instruction, 324 Pa. 371, 188 A. 337 (1936), however, our Supreme Court construed this provision as affording to pre-1931 licensees only such branch office rights as they had under their old licenses. "Renewal gave old licensees the privilege they enjoyed at the time the Act was passed, but no other." 324 Pa. at 380, 188 A. at 341. The applicant for a branch license in Grime had held a license which predated the Act of 1931 but, because the applicant had established no branch office prior to the adoption of the Act the Court held that no rights could have accrued under the grandfather clause. "All old licensees who did not have branch places or, having them, desired additional ones, were denied the right to obtain any new branch licenses." 324 Pa. at 380, 188 A. at 341. In State Board of Undertakers v. Wetzel & Sons, Inc., 54 Dauph. 244 (1943), of course, the licensee had operated two branch offices continuously since 1925 and it was consequently held to be entitled to continue these operations subsequent ...