No. 132 March Term, 1979, No. 133 March Term, 1979, Appeal from the April 11, 1979 Decision and Order of the Commonwealth Court at No. 1986 C.D. 1977, which Affirmed the Order dated September 16, 1977, of the Board of Arbitration of Claims at Docket No. 523. (Appeal Allowed to the Supreme Court at No. 1949 Allcatur Docket.)
Roger J. Ecker, Peacock, Keller, Yohe, Day & Ecker, Washington, for appellant James Stevenson.
Louise Reiber Malakoff, Berger, Kapetan, Malakoff & Meyers, Pittsburgh, for appellant Tony Vespaziana.
Michael L. Harvey, Deputy Atty. Gen., Harrisburg, for appellees.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ.
Appellants, James Stevenson and Tony Vespaziana, held first-prize winning tickets for the Pennsylvania "Big Fifty Bonus Lottery." They allege that appellee, the Commonwealth Department of Revenue (hereinafter, the Department), represented to ticket purchasers that each first-prize winner would receive a twenty-seven foot Winnebago "Elandan II" motor home worth approximately $29,000.00. After choosing the first-prize winners the Department, however, attempted to deliver to each winner a twenty-one foot Winnebago "Brave" motor home which was worth $14,000.00 less than the "Elandan II".
Appellants brought separate actions before the Board of Arbitration of Claims (hereinafter, the Board) and sought to
have their claims heard as class actions on behalf of all first-prize winners. The class allegedly consisted of some seventy-eight persons in addition to appellants. The Department moved to dismiss the claims, and the Board granted the Department's motion with respect to the class action portion of the claims only, holding it was without authority to hear class actions. Both appellants appealed to the Commonwealth Court which affirmed the order of the Board. Appellants then petitioned this Court for allowance of appeal, and we granted the petitions and consolidated the appeals.
Appellants instituted their actions pursuant to the Board of Arbitration of Claims Act.*fn1 This Act established the Board to hear claims against the Commonwealth arising out of contracts to which the Commonwealth is a party, and gave the Board exclusive jurisdiction over all such claims where the amount in controversy is $300.00 or more. (see §§ 1 and 4, 72 P.S. §§ 4651-1 and 4651-4). Section 10 of the Act, 72 P.S. § 4651-10, directs the Board to "establish such rules for its government, and regulations governing practice before it as it shall deem proper and necessary."
Pursuant to that directive, the Board promulgated section 121.1 of its Rules of Practice and Procedure, ...