Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

WOODWARD HEATING & AIR CONDITIONING COMPANY v. AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSN. (10/25/78)

SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: October 25, 1978.

WOODWARD HEATING & AIR CONDITIONING COMPANY, AN OHIO CORPORATION, AND MELLON-STUART COMPANY, A PENNSYLVANIA CORPORATION, APPELLANTS,
v.
AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSN., A NON-PROFIT CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, CITY OF SHARON SCHOOL DISTRICT AND SHARON SCHOOL BUILDING AUTHORITY, A MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY

No. 433 April Term 1977, Joint Appeal from the Order dated Dec. 22, 1976, entered on Dec. 23, 1976, of the Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County, Pa., Civil Action - Law, at No. 25 E.Q. 1976 in Equity.

COUNSEL

Charles C. Arensberg, Pittsburgh, for appellants.

William G. McConnell, Sharon, for appellees.

Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ. Watkins, former President Judge, and Hoffman, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Spaeth

[ 259 Pa. Super. Page 461]

In November 1975 appellees filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association, alleging that appellants had failed to comply with the terms of a 1967 construction agreement. Appellants responded by filing suit in Allegheny County to enjoin the arbitration. Appellees

[ 259 Pa. Super. Page 462]

    filed preliminary objections, requesting a change of venue and challenging the court's jurisdiction. A change of venue was granted, and the suit was transferred to Mercer County. On December 22, 1976, the court there sustained the preliminary objection challenging jurisdiction, and dismissed the complaint. This appeal is from that order.*fn1

-1-

In Witney v. Lebanon City, 369 Pa. 308, 311-12, 85 A.2d 106, 108 (1952), the Supreme Court explained how to decide whether a court has jurisdiction:

In Zerbe Township School District v. Thomas, 353 Pa. 162, 44 A.2d 566, we stated principles which are here applicable, namely that even though a plaintiff have no standing to bring his action, even though his complaint be demurrable, even though he fail to establish its allegations, even though the court should finally conclude that the relief he seeks should not be granted, not any or all of these circumstances would enter into, much less determine, the question whether the court had jurisdiction of the litigation. We there pointed out that the test of jurisdiction was the competency of the court to determine controversies of the general class to which the case presented for its consideration belonged, -- whether the court had power to enter upon the inquiry, not whether it might ultimately decide that it was unable to grant the relief sought in the particular case; that the Act of 1925 was not intended to furnish a short cut to a determination of the issues of law or fact raised by the pleadings and that it was not concerned with matters going to the right of the plaintiff to recover on his cause of action but only with his right to have his cause of action heard and determined.

The application of this test has resulted in it being consistently held that an arbitration clause in a contract does not affect the court's jurisdiction. For example, in

[ 259 Pa. Super. Page 463]

    must be resolved by the arbitrators.*fn4 In Borough of Ambridge Water Authority v. Columbia, supra at 551-52, 328 A.2d at 501, the Court dealt with a contention similar to appellants', as follows:

Where, as here, there is an unlimited arbitration clause, any dispute which may arise between the parties concerning the principal contract is to be settled pursuant to its terms. 6 Williston On Contracts (Revised Edition) ยง 1924. This concept was well stated by the late Mr. Justice Musmanno speaking for the Court in Wyoming Radio v. National Association of Broadcast Employees & Technicians, supra [398 Pa. 183] at 187, 157 A.2d [366] at 367: "It cannot be doubted that a legitimate dispute arose between the company and the union, and it is equally unquestioned that the dispute was not settled. It is not now within the province of the Company to determine whether the dispute should or should not be arbitrated. There is no limitation in the contract as to the nature of the dispute which shall be cognizable by arbitration. The person who offers carte blanche to another to enter the temple of arbitration may not later on impose restrictions as to the type of clothing the other person shall wear when he presents himself at the doors of the temple."

The order of the lower court dismissing the complaint is affirmed.


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.