No. 618 January Term, 1977, No. 626 January Term, 1977, Appeals from the Order of the Commonwealth Court entered July 21, 1977, at No. 123 C.D. 1974
Howard M. Levinson, Harrisburg, for Pennsylvania Turnpike Comm.
Robert M. Landis, Philadelphia, for Atlantic Richfield Co.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Pomeroy, J., files a concurring and dissenting opinion. Nix, J., files a concurring and dissenting opinion.
On December 14, 1953, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (Commission) executed a written lease with Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) for three parcels of property along the Delaware River Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. On February 13, 1956, the parties executed a similar lease for two additional parcels along the Turnpike's Northeast Extension. The monthly rental payments for the parcels were based upon a percentage of gross sales for different types of products sold at ARCO's service stations located on the leased parcels. Payments were made monthly, with the Commission periodically auditing ARCO's books.
On January 29, 1974, the Commission filed a complaint in assumpsit in Commonwealth Court alleging that ARCO had failed to make rental payments as called for in the leases. The Commission sought an accounting from ARCO from the beginning of the leases (1953 and 1956, respectively), and judgment against ARCO for the amount of the alleged rental underpayments.
In its answer to the complaint, ARCO denied any error in its monthly rental payments and, by way of new matter, asserted the defenses of laches and the statute of limitations to the Commission's claim. On March 8, 1977, ARCO filed a motion for summary judgment based upon these two defenses.
On July 21, 1977, Commonwealth Court issued an order which granted ARCO's motion for summary judgment as to all alleged underpayments made more than six years prior to the date the Commission filed suit. ARCO's motion was denied in all other respects. Pa. Turnpike Commission v. ARCO, 31 Pa. Commw. 212, 375 A.2d 890 (1977). On August 18, 1977, the Commission filed a notice of appeal to this court at No. 618 January Term, 1977, and ARCO subsequently filed a timely cross-appeal at No. 626 January Term, 1977. ARCO then filed a motion to quash the Commission's appeal, and the Commission filed a motion to quash ARCO's cross-appeal. On October 12, 1977, we reserved decision on both motions to quash until after oral argument before the court on the merits of both appeals.
No. 618 January Term, 1977
In this appeal, the Commission argues that Commonwealth Court erred in holding that the statute of limitations barred all claims over six years old from the date of filing the assumpsit action. The Commission argues that since it is an instrumentality of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it is not subject to the statute of limitations where it suffered a loss of public funds in pursuit of its governmental function. In its ...