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PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION v. JONES & LAUGHLIN STEEL CORPORATION (11/18/78)

decided: November 18, 1978.

PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION, APPELLEE,
v.
JONES & LAUGHLIN STEEL CORPORATION, ALIQUIPPA WORKS DIVISION, APPELLANT



No. 195 March Term, 1977, Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania at No. 705 C.D. 1977.

COUNSEL

Robert W. Hartland, Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

James D. Keeney, Asst. Gen. Counsel, (AEP) Human Relations Commission, Harrisburg, for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Pomeroy, J., filed a concurring opinion. Manderino, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Larsen, J., joined.

Author: Nix

[ 483 Pa. Page 36]

OPINION

This appeal is from an order of the Commonwealth Court enforcing a subpoena issued by the appellee, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (Commission), to the manager of the appellant, Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation, Aliquippa Works Division (J & L), to testify concerning a complaint filed with the Commission, charging J & L with employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race and national origin. J & L's sole contention is that section 7(g) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act*fn1 only gives the Commission the power to issue subpoenas in connection with hearings before it. The Commission, in addition to disputing this issue on the merits, has moved to quash the appeal on the ground that the order enforcing its subpoena is not a final order, and is hence not appealable. We reserved decision on the motion until this question could be briefed and argued by the parties. We now grant the motion and quash the appeal.

In this jurisdiction the law is clear that a ruling denying a motion to quash a subpoena or an order directing a response to depositions directed to a party to the litigation are interlocutory and therefore not appealable. Kine v. Forman, 412 Pa. 163, 194 A.2d 175 (1963); Young v. Bradford Co. Tel. Co., 346 Pa. 90, 29 A.2d 533 (1943). There was formerly some authority for the view that an order directed to a witness, who was not a party to the litigation, to respond to process of this nature might present a final and appealable decision. See e. g. International Coal Mining Co. v. Penna. R. R., 214 Pa. 469, 63 A. 880 (1906). However,

[ 483 Pa. Page 37]

    even this exception has been discarded in our more recent decisions. Petition of Specter, 455 Pa. 518, 317 A.2d 286 (1974).

Mr. Justice O'BRIEN, speaking for a majority of this Court, has recently stated the long-standing rule of both this jurisdiction and the federal system with respect to grand jury subpoenas:

"It has long been the law that the denial of a motion to quash a grand jury subpoena is interlocutory and, therefore, not appealable. United States v. Ryan, 402 U.S. 530, 91 S.Ct. 1580, 29 L.Ed.2d 85 (1971), Cobbledick v. United States, 309 U.S. 323, 60 S.Ct. 540, 84 L.Ed. 783 (1939). Instead, the party subpoenaed must either comply with the subpoena or refuse to comply and litigate the propriety of the subpoena in the event that contempt or similar proceedings are brought against him. Forcing the party subpoenaed to make such a choice is justified ...


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