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PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE COMMISSION v. ATLANTIC RICHFIELD COMPANY (07/21/77)

decided: July 21, 1977.

PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE COMMISSION, PLAINTIFF
v.
ATLANTIC RICHFIELD COMPANY, DEFENDANT



Original jurisdiction in case of Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission v. Atlantic Richfield Company.

COUNSEL

Gerald Gornish, Deputy Attorney General, with him Howard M. Levinson, Deputy Attorney General, J. Justin Blewitt, Jr., Deputy Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for plaintiff.

Robert M. Landis, with him Norbert F. Bergholtz; Dechert, Price & Rhoads, and, of counsel, John F. McLaren, for defendant.

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

Author: Bowman

[ 31 Pa. Commw. Page 214]

In 1953 and 1956, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (Commission) and Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) executed two leases allowing ARCO to operate service stations along extensions of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Rent was to accrue and be payable monthly and was to be based upon specified percentages of goods and services sold -- the percentages varying with the nature of the product.

Since the execution of these leases, the Commission has regularly audited the accounts of ARCO and, though disputes have arisen in the past regarding ARCO's computation of rent due, no formal action was taken by the Commission until January 29, 1974, when it initiated, by a complaint in assumpsit, this proceeding averring improper computation of rents by ARCO.*fn1 The Commission seeks from ARCO an accounting from the inception of the rental period and damages for alleged underpayments.

ARCO has moved for summary judgment, raising the defenses of laches and the running of the applicable six year statute of limitations. Act of March 27, 1713, 1 Sm.L. 76, 12 P.S. ยง 31. Summary judgment may be granted upon timely motion of any party when,

     there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. A summary judgment, interlocutory in character, may be rendered on the issues of liability alone although there is a genuine issue as to the amount of damages.

Pa. R.C.P. No. 1035(b).

Such is the case in these proceedings.

In support of its motion, ARCO contends that the Commission, since being stripped ...


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