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ROBERT K. GREENFIELD v. PENNSYLVANIA INSURANCE GUARANTY ASSOCIATION (03/18/76)

decided: March 18, 1976.

ROBERT K. GREENFIELD, I. I. JAMISON, ALLEN J. LEVIN, ALVIN J. IVERS, RAGAN A. HENRY, NATHAN L. EDELSTEIN, S. LAURENCE SHAIMAN, DONALD F. SILEO, ALBERT E. JANKE, JR., STEVEN J. SERLING, EDWARD L. EDELSTEIN, JEREMY E. GOLDSTEIN, LYLE F. HILTON, RICHARD M. SEGAL, LIBBY G. FISHMAN, JERRY H. DOLCHIN, AND EDWARD L. KUNTZ, TRADING AS GOODIS, GREENFIELD, HENRY, SHAIMAN & LEVIN, A PARTNERSHIP, PLAINTIFFS
v.
THE PENNSYLVANIA INSURANCE GUARANTY ASSOCIATION, DEFENDANT



Original jurisdiction in case of Robert K. Greenfield, I. I. Jamison, Allen J. Levin, Alvin J. Ivers, Ragan A. Henry, Nathan L. Edelstein, S. Laurence Shaiman, Donald F. Sileo, Albert E. Janke, Jr., Steven J. Serling, Edward L. Edelstein, Jeremy E. Goldstein, Lyle F. Hilton, Richard M. Segal, Libby G. Fishman, Jerry H. Dolchin and Edward L. Kuntz, trading as Goodis, Greenfield, Henry, Shaiman & Levin, a Partnership v. The Pennsylvania Insurance Guaranty Association.

COUNSEL

Robert K. Greenfield, with him Edward L. Kuntz, and Goodis, Greenfield, Henry, Shaiman & Levin, for plaintiffs.

James J. McCabe, with him Carl N. Martin, II, and Duane, Morris & Heckscher, for defendant.

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

Author: Rogers

[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 128]

The plaintiffs in this suit in assumpsit brought in this Court are the members of a Philadelphia law partnership. The defendant is The Pennsylvania Insurance Guaranty Association, a creature of legislation. The Pennsylvania Insurance Guaranty Association Act, Act of November 25, 1970, P.L. 716, 40 P.S. § 1701.101 et seq.

The plaintiffs' complaint states that they performed legal services in defense of claims and lawsuits brought by persons insured by Gateway Insurance Company; that on August 21, 1974 a judge of this Court ordered the liquidation of Gateway under the direction of the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner as statutory liquidator;*fn1 that pursuant to an order of this Court the plaintiffs delivered files and other materials regarding the claims and lawsuits defended by them to The Pennsylvania Insurance Guaranty Association; that the fair and reasonable value of the plaintiffs' services was $54,760; that

[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 129]

    the plaintiffs have an attorney's retaining lien on the files and other materials delivered to the defendant; that the defendant has a statutory obligation to pay the plaintiffs their bills for legal services for Gateway; and that the defendant by requiring the plaintiffs to deliver the files assumed an obligation to discharge the plaintiffs' retaining liens by paying their bills for services.

The defendant, The Pennsylvania Insurance Guaranty Association, has filed preliminary objections asserting under the heading Demurrer no less than 20 reasons why the complaint should be dismissed. Included is the assertion that this Court is without jurisdiction.

At oral argument, the defendants failed to press the matter of our jurisdiction. We, however, raised the matter at argument and directed the filing of supplemental briefs on this issue. Both parties now contend that this Court has jurisdiction. We disagree.

Section 401(a)(1) of the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act confers on the Commonwealth Court original jurisdiction of civil actions or proceedings against the Commonwealth. Act of July 31, 1970, P.L. 673, 17 P.S. § 211.401. The same Act defines the Commonwealth as including departments, departmental administrative boards and commissions, officers, independent boards or commissions, authorities and "other agencies of this Commonwealth." Section 102(a)(2), 17 P.S. § 211.102(a)(2).

Examination of The Pennsylvania Insurance Guaranty Association Act convinces us that the Association thereby created is not an agency of the Commonwealth. The stated purpose of the Act is to provide a means for the payment of covered claims under certain property and casualty insurance policies in order to avoid delay and loss of claims for policy holders as a result of the insolvency of the insurer. Section 102, 40 P.S. § 1701.102. The membership of the Association ...


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