Nos. 157 and 158, January Term 1978 No. 157 January Term, 1978 Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania filed on December 28, 1977, to Nos. 977 and 978, October Term 1976, Respectively, Consolidated. (Centre County Nos. 112 October Term 1974, and 108 January Term 1974, Consolidated.) No. 158 January Term, 1978
Benjamin Novak, State College, for appellants.
No appearance for appellees.
O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Larsen and Flaherty, JJ. Eagen, C. J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Nix, J., filed a Dissenting Opinion in which Roberts, J., joined.
On October 27, 1973, Henry Gnas, appellee in No. 158 January Term, 1978, drove to State College, Pennsylvania to
attend a Penn State football game at Beaver Stadium.*fn* After the game, he and his companions drove to downtown State College for dinner. Mr. Gnas parked his car illegally in a private parking lot near the restaurant in violation of the Vehicle Code, 75 P.S. § 1021.1, as amended (1971), which provided:
"No person shall park or leave unattended a vehicle or tractor on private property without the consent of the owner or other person in control or possession thereof, except in the case of emergency or disablement of the vehicle or tractor, in which case, the operator shall arrange for the removal of such vehicle or tractor as soon as possible.
The owner or other person in charge or possession of any land on which a vehicle or tractor is parked or left unattended in violation of the provisions of this section may remove such vehicle or tractor at the reasonable expense of the owner thereof."*fn1 (emphasis added).
Upon finding his car missing from the parking lot, Mr. Gnas was informed it was at an auto pound owned and operated by Natalie's Towing Service, Inc., (hereinafter Natalie's) appellant in No. 158 January Term, 1978. Mr. Gnas' brother then went to Natalie's and was apparently told he would not be able to remove the car unless he paid the towing charge of $25.30,*fn2 which he did. Subsequently, Mr. Gnas filed a complaint in assumpsit in the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County asserting that Natalie's had wrongfully withheld and deprived Gnas of his motor vehicle, and demanded the refund of the towing fee plus interest.
A separate action was initiated by the Apartment Owners and Managers Committee of the State College Area Chamber of Commerce, et al., ...