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GENERAL STATE AUTHORITY v. SUTTER CORPORATION AND CERTAIN-TEED PRODUCTS CORPORATION (04/26/76)

decided: April 26, 1976.

THE GENERAL STATE AUTHORITY, PLAINTIFF
v.
THE SUTTER CORPORATION AND CERTAIN-TEED PRODUCTS CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS



Original jurisdiction in case of The General State Authority v. The Sutter Corporation and Certain-Teed Products Corporation.

COUNSEL

John L. Sweezy, Assistant Attorney General, with him Richard D. Holahan, Assistant Attorney General, and Michael A. Madar, Chief Counsel, for plaintiff.

Anthony J. Ciotola, with him Louis Geo. Feldmann, and Feldmann & Ciotola, for defendant, Sutter Corporation.

Robert J. Brown, with him Kain, Brown, Roberts & Woodbury, for defendant, Certain-Teed Products Corporation.

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

Author: Crumlish

[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 393]

The instant action was commenced when the General State Authority (GSA), plaintiff herein, filed its complaint in assumpsit seeking damages arising from the construction of an annex to the Scranton State General Hospital, from the Sutter Corporation (Sutter) and Certain-Teed Products Corporation (Certain-Teed). Both defendants filed preliminary objections to that complaint and reinstituted those objections when GSA filed its amended complaint.*fn1 It appears from the averments contained in the amended complaint that Sutter was hired as the general contractor who in turn employed Dunmore Roofing and Sheet Metal Company to install a "built-up roof" for the hospital. It is further averred that Certain-Teed supplied and warranted the roofing materials used in the project.

SUTTER'S PRELIMINARY OBJECTIONS

1. The initial objection of Sutter is that GSA's amended complaint fails to conform to Pa. R.C.P. No. 1022 in that paragraphs five and eight*fn2 of the amended complaint contain more than one material allegation. Pa. R.C.P. No. 1022 states in relevant part, "[e]ach paragraph shall contain as far as practicable only one material allegation." The thrust and purpose of this rule are set forth in 2A Anderson, Pennsylvania Civil Practice, ยง 1022.3, wherein it is stated:

[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 394]

"This standard must be applied with great flexibility, not only because of the express direction of the rule that, 'the standard be followed as far as practicable.' but also because there is no set standard as to what constitutes a material allegation. Mere length, complexity, and verbosity do not in themselves violate Rule 1022 if the subsidiary facts averred fit together into a single allegation."*fn3

And generally, it may be said that the test of compliance is the difficulty or impossibility one has in answering the complaint.*fn4

We have carefully examined the two paragraphs to which the objection has been filed and conclude that although these paragraphs could have been more artfully drawn, Sutter will suffer no prejudice by answering, and indeed is in a position to answer the allegations in these respective paragraphs because conditional and explanatory admissions or denials are available in a responsive pleading.

Paragraph five concerns Sutter's bid, its acceptance, the resultant contract, and the bond required by that contract. Undoubtedly, each of these averments could be pleaded in individual paragraphs, however, an overall view of the paragraph as pleaded shows that GSA has attempted to plead the central concept of the contract and its underpinnings and has limited the range of subject matter included.

As to paragraph eight, GSA has attempted to plead Sutter's breach of contract and further refusal to repair the damage attendant to the breach. Again, the facts averred could have been segregated into separate paragraphs, but in our review, we can find no violation of Rule

[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 3951022]

for the overriding idea expressed in this paragraph is breach, and as such, Sutter can respond.

In these circumstances, and remembering that this rule should enjoy flexibility, we find no violation of ...


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