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GEORGE W. SCHROECK v. PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE (08/09/76)

decided: August 9, 1976.

GEORGE W. SCHROECK, ESQUIRE, PLAINTIFF
v.
THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE, COMMISSIONER JAMES BARGER, MAJOR PATRICK HANKINSON, LIEUTENANT CHARLES KLODELL, SERGEANT JOHN LOFTUS, TROOPER JOHN MARTIN, TROOPER TIMOTHY A. BAKER, TROOPER LEE PIERCE, BETTY NORMAN, DISTRICT ATTORNEY ROBERT CHASE, ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY CHARLES AGRESTI, ASST. DISTRICT ATTY. FRANK KROTO, THE HOUSTON GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF FORT WORTH, TEXAS AND THE GULF-WESTERN INSURANCE COMPANY OF DALLAS, TEXAS, DEFENDANTS



Original jurisdiction in case of George W. Schroeck, Esquire v. The Pennsylvania State Police, Commissioner James Barger, Major Patrick Hankinson, Lieutenant Charles Klodell, Sergeant John Loftus, Trooper John Martin, Trooper Timothy A. Baker, Trooper Lee Pierce, Betty Norman, District Attorney Robert Chase, Assistant District Attorney Charles Agresti, Assistant District Attorney Frank Kroto, The Houston General Insurance Company of Fort Worth, Texas and the Gulf-Western Insurance Company of Dallas, Texas.

COUNSEL

George W. Schroeck, plaintiff, for himself.

F. Murray Bryan, with him McNees, Wallace & Nurick; John W. Beatty; Knox, Graham, Pearson, McLaughlin & Sennett, Inc. ; and Lawrence F. Clark, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, for defendants, Pennsylvania State Police, Commissioner James Barger, Major Patrick Hankinson, Lieutenant Charles Klodell, Sergeant John Loftus, Troopers John Martin, Timothy A. Baker, Lee Pierce, The Houston General Insurance Company of Fort Worth, Texas, and the Gulf-Western Insurance Company of Dallas, Texas.

Michael J. Visnosky, with him Carney, Good, Brabender, Palmisano & Walsh, for defendant, Norman.

Edward E. Knauss, III, with him Metzger, Wickersham, Knauss & Erb, for defendants, District Attorney Robert Chase and Assistant District Attorneys Charles Agresti and Frank Kroto.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Judge Kramer did not participate. Opinion by President Judge Bowman. Judge Rogers dissents. Concurring and Dissenting Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Bowman

[ 26 Pa. Commw. Page 44]

Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court on his own behalf and on behalf of a class of persons whom he purports to represent alleging violations of Sections 1983 and 1985 of the Federal Civil Rights Act*fn1 and various other causes of action, including, inter alia, invasion of privacy, false arrest and malicious prosecution. Plaintiff seeks civil damages, the appointment of a special prosecutor and injunctive relief against the continuance of the alleged wrongdoing of the defendants. Presently before us are numerous preliminary objections filed by the various defendants, including petitions raising questions of jurisdiction and demurrers based on assertions of immunity. Because of our disposition of the jurisdictional and immunity issues, we find it unnecessary to deal with the other preliminary objections raised.

Article I, Section 11, of the Pennsylvania Constitution has consistently been held to provide the Commonwealth with absolute sovereign immunity from civil liability. Biello v. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, 454 Pa. 179, 301 A.2d 849 (1973); DuBree v. Commonwealth, 8 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 567, 303 A.2d 530 (1973). This immunity extends to actions in equity. Ross v. Keitt, 10 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 375, 308 A.2d 906 (1973), aff'd, Pa. , 353 A.2d 841 (1976).

The Pennsylvania State Police is an instrumentality of the Commonwealth and clearly entitled to the protection of sovereign immunity. Biello, supra. Consequently, the complaint, as to it, must be dismissed.

With respect to the other defendants,*fn2 this case is controlled by our decisions in Freach v. Commonwealth,

[ 26 Pa. Commw. Page 4523]

Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 546, 354 A.2d 908 (1976); Forney v. Harrisburg State Hospital, 18 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 17, 336 A.2d ...


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