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MARION ATKINS v. URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY PITTSBURGH (04/30/80)

decided: April 30, 1980.

MARION ATKINS, APPELLANT AT NO. 64, APPELLEE AT NO. 65,
v.
URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF PITTSBURGH, A MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY, APPELLEE AT NO. 64, APPELLANT AT NO. 65, V. HOUSING AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH, APPELLEE AT NOS. 64 AND 65



No. 64 March Term, 1979 and No. 65 March Term, 1979, Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court at No. 707 April Term, 1978, and No. 777 April Term, 1978, filed January 24, 1979, affirming the Order of February 17, 1978, of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division, at No. GD 75-17617, granting judgments n.o.v. in favor of the original defendant and additional defendant

COUNSEL

Joseph M. Zoffer, Pittsburgh, for appellant at No. 64.

Cosmos J. Reale, Murovich, Reale & Fossee, Warren D. Ferry, Pittsburgh, for appellant at No. 65.

George I. Buckler, Meyer, Darragh, Buckler, Bebenek & Eck, Pittsburgh, for Housing Authority of City of Pittsburgh in both cases.

Warren D. Ferry, Cosmos J. Reale, Pittsburgh, for Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Joseph M. Zoffer, Pittsburgh, for Marion Atkins.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ. Roberts, J., filed a concurring opinion. Eagen, C. J., concurred in the result.

Author: Larsen

[ 489 Pa. Page 347]

OPINION

The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) is, and was at the time of the events precipitating this appeal, the owner of numerous properties in the City of Pittsburgh slated for urban redevelopment. URA entered into a contractual relationship with the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP) wherein HACP agreed to provide many and varied services with respect to URA's

[ 489 Pa. Page 348]

    properties.*fn1 The contract makes it quite clear that URA was to have no active role in the supervision, operation and

[ 489 Pa. Page 349]

    maintenance of its properties, and that HACP would assume all responsibility for the performance of these duties. HACP was, specifically, entirely responsible for preparing vacant properties for demolition when URA determined demolition was appropriate. Services in this regard included rat and other pest extermination, sealing (boarding up) the buildings, making sure all utilities were disconnected and making whatever repairs or maintenance necessary to keep the vacant land safe and clear of debris.

This action in trespass arises out of an incident occurring at a vacant house at 549 Junilla Street, Pittsburgh, a property owned by URA and scheduled for demolition as the house was uninhabitable. Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, HACP made several visits to 549 Junilla Street to remove debris and board up the house to prevent unauthorized entry. On October 11, 1973, Marion Atkins (plaintiff below), an employee of HACP, accompanied two fellow HACP employees to 549 Junilla Street. Atkins knew the house was to be demolished because it was uninhabitable and had gone there to be sure all of the utilities were disconnected. Atkins had been employed by the HACP for some three years as a general maintenance man and laborer, and had often inspected and disconnected utilities of buildings that were to be demolished.

Atkins was going to the basement of the house to determine if the water meter had been removed. When he stepped off the top step of the stairway leading to the basement, he fell down ...


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