Original jurisdiction in case of The General State Authority of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Boyd H. Kline and Federal Insurance Company, and Lyle F. Boulware and George M. Ewing, Co., Associated Architects, and Lyle F. Boulware, George M. Ewing, Sr., George M. Ewing, Jr., Alexander Ewing, and General Roofing Insulation Company.
John A. Alogna, Assistant Counsel, with him Richard D. Holahan, Assistant Attorney General, and Arnold L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General, for plaintiff.
C. Grainger Bowman, with him Edward C. First, Jr., and McNees, Wallace and Nurick, for defendants, Boyd H. Kline and Federal Insurance Company.
William J. C. O'Donnell, for defendant, Lyle F. Boulware.
Edward E. Knauss, III, with him Metzger, Wickersham, Knauss & Erb, for defendants, George M. Ewing Co., George M. Ewing, Sr., George M. Ewing, Jr., and Alexander Ewing.
Frank Townend, with him Hugh J. O'Connell, and Silverblatt & Townend, for additional defendant, General Roofing and Insulation Co., Inc.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 29 Pa. Commw. Page 234]
This is an action in assumpsit and trespass brought within our original jurisdiction by the General State Authority*fn1 (GSA). It originates in a series of written contracts entered into by the GSA for the design and construction of several buildings at the White Haven School, where, while the buildings were still under construction, the GSA discovered that several roofs were defective. After unsuccessful efforts to have the problem corrected, the GSA replaced the roofs and it has now brought this action against the architects and the general contractor and also against the general contractor's surety. The GSA avers that the negligent design and construction of the roofs constituted breaches of the respective parties' contracts which in turn forced the GSA, although paying the full contract price, to seek alternative performance. The contractor and the surety have also brought a third party action against the architect and roofing contractor for indemnity and contribution should they be found liable to the GSA. We are concerned here with the preliminary objections of the architect, contractor and surety to the GSA complaint and with the preliminary objections of the architect and roofing contractor to the third party complaint.
[ 29 Pa. Commw. Page 235]
All of the defendants argue that the GSA complaint is barred by the statute of limitations because, although the defective roofs were discovered by the GSA in 1964, this action was not commenced until 1972. They contend that the GSA is subject to the six-year statute of limitations on contract actions provided in the Act of March 27, 1713, 1 Sm. L. 76, 12 P.S. § 31, and that, because this action was brought more than six years after the discovery of the defect, the complaint is untimely and must be dismissed. We disagree.
It is a general rule that the Commonwealth as a sovereign is not subject to the statute of limitations. Commonwealth v. Musser Forests, Inc., 394 Pa. 205, 146 A.2d 714 (1958); Frey's Estate, 342 Pa. 351, 21 A.2d 23 (1941). Moreover, we have previously held on several occasions that the GSA is an authority of the Commonwealth and as such is entitled to the shield of sovereign immunity. General State Authority v. Pacific Indemnity Co., 24 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 82, 354 A.2d 56 (1976); Armour Rentals, Inc. v. General State Authority, 4 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 517, 287 A.2d 862 (1972). We believe, therefore, that the statute of limitations does not apply to actions brought by the GSA and that the complaint was not untimely.
The defendants also argue that the complaint is barred by laches. We note, however, that this is a suit in assumpsit governed by principles in law rather than by principles in equity and that the defense of laches, therefore, is unavailable to the defendants here. Graybill v. Juniata ...