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ERIE-WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA PORT AUTHORITY v. JOSEPH RUGARE (03/03/77)

decided: March 3, 1977.

ERIE-WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA PORT AUTHORITY
v.
JOSEPH RUGARE, D/B/A JULIE MARIE LAKE RIDES, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County in case of Erie-Western Pennsylvania Authority v. Joseph Rugare, d/b/a Julie Marie Lake Rides, Nos. 49 and 58 Equity 1975.

COUNSEL

Daniel J. Beggy, with him Mansmann, Beggy & Campbell, for appellant.

Paul F. Curry, with him Stephen E. Jones, William C. Sennett, and Knox, Graham, Pearson, McLaughlin and Sennett, Inc., for appellee.

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

Author: Rogers

[ 29 Pa. Commw. Page 84]

The narrow issue of this case is that of whether the exercise of regulatory authority by the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority (Port Authority) over ferryboat operations at the port of Erie, Pennsylvania, pursuant to the Third Class City Port Authority

[ 29 Pa. Commw. Page 85]

Act (Act)*fn1 preempts the regulatory authority of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (P.U.C.).

The Port Authority was created by ordinance of the City of Erie adopted pursuant to the Third Class City Port Authority Act. The Port Authority acquired land commonly known as the Erie public docks and the docking berths appurtenant which were formerly owned by the City. The Port Authority prepared leasing agreements for its public docks and berths, which described, inter alia, the services to be rendered and the rates to be charged for such services by the successful bidder.*fn2 In the spring of 1975 the Port Authority publicly advertised for bids for the leasing of the public dock facilities.

The appellant, Joseph Rugare, an individual doing business as Julie Marie Lake Rides and Ferry Service, has been transporting passengers on Lake Erie as a common carrier under rights granted by a P.U.C. Certificate of Public Convenience. The certificate permits the transportation by watercraft of persons between the public docks in the City of Erie and the pier on the north side of the entrance channel to Erie Harbor.

Upon receipt of a copy of the Port Authority's proposed lease and specifications, Rugare filed a complaint in equity in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County seeking injunctive relief, alleging that the leasing specifications were a usurpation by the Port Authority of the P.U.C.'s power to set schedules and rates for common carriers, exercised by the grant of a certificate of public convenience to the plaintiff.

[ 29 Pa. Commw. Page 86]

The Port Authority then filed its complaint against Rugare seeking an order restraining the defendant from trespassing on the public docks and berths. Judge Fred P. Anthony, noting that the parties had stipulated that the only issue was whether or not the Port Authority had regulatory authority to the exclusion of the P.U.C. and concluding on the authority of the Act that it did, enjoined Rugare from using the public dock facilities in his business and from the unauthorized use of water routes within the jurisdiction of ...


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