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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. SHIPLEY HUMBLE OIL COMPANY (03/09/77)

decided: March 9, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, PLAINTIFF
v.
SHIPLEY HUMBLE OIL COMPANY, A/K/A SHIPLEY HUMBLE, INC. AND THE MASON AND DIXON LINES, INC., DEFENDANTS. THE PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE COMMISSION, ADDITIONAL DEFENDANT



Original jurisdiction in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Plaintiff v. Shipley Humble Oil Company, a/k/a Shipley Humble, Inc., Defendant, and The Mason & Dixon Lines, Inc., Defendant.

COUNSEL

John T. Kalita, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, with him Stuart J. Moskovitz, Assistant Attorney General, Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for plaintiff.

James W. Evans, with him Goldberg, Evans and Katzman, for defendant, Mason & Dixon Lines, Inc.

Judges Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr. and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 29 Pa. Commw. Page 172]

This action was brought by the Department of Transportation of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania against Shipley Humble Oil Company (Shipley) and the Mason and Dixon Lines, Inc. (Mason).*fn1

The complaint is captioned "In Trespass" and it describes two accidents which occurred on March 22, 1973. Allegedly, the first accident occurred when a negligently operated vehicle owned by Shipley collided with a highway median barrier, overran the barrier, and came to rest in the opposite lane of the highway. The second alleged accident occurred when a negligently operated vehicle owned by Mason collided with the disabled Shipley vehicle, touching off an explosion of volatile substances carried by both vehicles. The explosion caused extensive damage to the median barrier, overhead signs and supports, and the paved road surface and berm.

The defendant Mason filed preliminary objections, in the form of a motion for a more specific pleading, asserting the plaintiff's failure to: (1) allege facts with sufficient particularity as to how the defendant operated its vehicle without due regard and care for the plaintiff's property as alleged in the complaint; (2) allege facts or specify which laws of the Commonwealth were violated as alleged in the complaint; and (3) aver with sufficient specificity the alleged damage to the plaintiff's property and to apportion the damages between each accident.

[ 29 Pa. Commw. Page 173]

We have reviewed the pleadings in this case and agree with the defendant Mason that the complaint does indeed lack the required specificity.

Pa. R.C.P. No. 1019(a), 42 Pa. C.S.A., provides: "The material facts on which a cause of action or defense is based shall be stated in a concise and summary form."

A pleading must achieve the purpose of informing the court and the adverse party or parties of the matters in issue. Rule 1019(a) is satisfied if allegations in a pleading (1) contain averments of all facts the plaintiff will eventually have to prove in order to recover, and (2) they are sufficiently specific so as to enable the party served to prepare a defense thereto. General State Authority v. Sutter Corp., 24 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. ...


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