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CITY PHILADELPHIA v. JOHN E. BULLION (02/08/77)

decided: February 8, 1977.

CITY OF PHILADELPHIA
v.
JOHN E. BULLION, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, in case of City of Philadelphia v. John E. Bullion, No. 4114 February Term, 1975.

COUNSEL

Douglas P. Coopersmith, with him Kenneth E. Aaron, and Astor & Weiss, for appellant.

Stewart M. Weintraub, Assistant City Solicitor, with him Albert J. Persichetti, Deputy City Solicitor, Stephen Arinson, Chief Deputy City Solicitor, and Sheldon L. Albert, City Solicitor, for appellee.

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

Author: Kramer

[ 28 Pa. Commw. Page 487]

This is an appeal by John Bullion (appellant) from an order overruling his preliminary objections raising questions on whether the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas lacks jurisdiction over his person.*fn1 We affirm.

At all times during these proceedings the appellant has been a resident of the State of New Jersey. During the years 1971 through 1973 inclusive, appellant was employed as a civilian engineer technician by the United States Navy at the Naval Air Engineering Center located at the United States Naval Base on League Island. The City of Philadelphia (appellee) alleges that appellant earned during these years various sums of money which are subject to its wage tax.*fn2 The City further alleges that appellant has failed to pay the tax or to file tax returns for the years in question.

Appellee served appellant pursuant to the Pennsylvania long-arm statute.*fn3 Appellant, contending such service was improper, filed preliminary objections based upon the court's jurisdiction over his person. His objections were overruled by the lower court and appellant appealed.*fn4

[ 28 Pa. Commw. Page 488]

Appellant's contention that use of the long-arm statute was improper in his instance to obtain in personam jurisdiction is based upon the following three arguments: (1) the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not have legislative jurisdiction to require appellant to designate the Department of State as his agent for service of process as provided for in the Pennsylvania long-arm statute; (2) appellant was not an individual "doing business" in Pennsylvania under the terms and intent of the statute; and (3) personal jurisdiction obtained by long-arm statute over a nonresident employed within a Federal enclave violates the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution.

[ 28 Pa. Commw. Page 489]

Appellant's contention that the Commonwealth has no legislative jurisdiction to obligate him to designate the Department of State as his agent for receipt of process is without merit. When Pennsylvania ceded League Island to the United States, it also ceded exclusive legislative jurisdiction over the area to the Federal Government.*fn5 The Commonwealth, however, reserved concurrent jurisdiction for service of civil and criminal process within the Federal enclave.*fn6 Such reservations have been upheld in order "to prevent these lands from becoming a sanctuary for fugitives from justice for acts done within the acknowledged jurisdiction of the state." Fort Leavenworth Railroad Co. v. Lowe, 114 U.S. 525 (1885). This language has been construed as authorizing states "to execute civil and criminal process for acts done within the states on lands ceded to the Federal Government." In re Thompson, 157 F. Supp. 93 (E.D. Pa. 1957), aff'd, sub nom. United States ex rel. Thompson v. Page 489} Lennox, 258 F.2d 320 (3d Cir. 1958), cert. denied, 358 U.S. 931 (1959). Though insufficient by itself, this reservation of power combined with the power the Federal Government receded to Pennsylvania by the Buck Act,*fn7 permitting states and local authorities to tax personal income within Federal enclaves, gives the Commonwealth the legislative jurisdiction necessary to deem the Department of State as appellant's agent for service of process.

The Buck Act provides pertinently:

(a) No person shall be relieved from liability from any income tax levied by any State, or by any duly constituted taxing authority therein, having jurisdiction to levy such a tax, by reason of his residing within a Federal area or receiving income from transactions occurring or services performed in such area; and such State or taxing authority shall have full jurisdiction and power to levy and collect such tax in any Federal area within such State to the same extent and with the same effect as though such area was not a Federal area. 4 U.S.C. ยง 106. (Emphasis added.)

It has been settled that this legislation grants appellee the power to "levy and collect" taxes on income earned by nonresidents employed on League Island. Non-Resident Taxpayers Association v. Municipality of Philadelphia, 341 F. Supp. 1139, 1142 (D.N.J. 1971), aff'd. mem., 406 U.S. 951 (1972); Kiker v. City of Philadelphia, 346 Pa. 624, 633, 31 A.2d 289, 294, cert. denied, 320 U.S. 741 (1943). More important to resolving the issue before this Court, ...


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