Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in case of Kenworth Trucks Philadelphia, Inc. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety, No. 79-851.
D. Barry Gibbons, with him Edward M. Foley, Gibbons, Buckley, Smith, Palmer and Proud, for appellants.
Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Attorney General, with him Ward T. Williams, Chief Counsel, Transportation, and Harvey Bartle, III, Acting Attorney General, for appellee.
Judges Blatt, Craig and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 56 Pa. Commw. Page 354]
Kenworth Trucks Philadelphia, Inc. (Kenworth) and Joseph M. Scheidley (Scheidley) appeal from the suspension of their right to inspect motor vehicles which was imposed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) pursuant to Section 4724(a) of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code (Code), Act of June 17, 1976, P.L. 162, 75 Pa. C.S. § 4724(a).*fn1
On August 24, 1978, Kenworth, an authorized inspection station, repaired and inspected a Hertz truck for which the driver did not possess the owner's card and Kenworth, therefore, informed Hertz that the inspection could not be completed without submission of the card. The following day, the driver produced the card and requested permission to remove the truck, but, because the certified inspection mechanic who had performed the inspection was ill and not at work that day, Scheidley, Kenworth's service manager, who was also a certified inspection mechanic, reviewed the previous day's inspection by way of a cursory reinspection and instructed a clerical employee to write the inspection up in the inspection book. While the inspecting mechanic was listed on the official inspection sheets as the one who performed the inspection, Scheidley's signature appeared on the sticker which was placed with the owner's card in the glove compartment of the truck but which should have been affixed to the truck's windshield.
DOT imposed a six-month suspension of Kenworth's certificate of appointment pursuant to Section
[ 56 Pa. Commw. Page 3554724]
(a) and of Scheidley's certification as an official inspection mechanic pursuant to Section 4726 for "furnishing an inspection sticker."
Upon appeal, and after a trial de novo, the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County made findings of fact different from those made by the Bureau and concluded that the appellants' failure to affix the certificate of inspection to the vehicle window was a violation of the required inspection procedure, and, as such, was a faulty inspection requiring the imposition of a three-month suspension rather than the violation of furnishing an inspection sticker with its mandated six-month penalty.
Kenworth and Scheidley appealed to this Court, but DOT neither appealed nor cross-appealed and any consideration as to the reimposition of the six-month suspension decreed by the Bureau is not before us. Although the court below cannot modify the penalty imposed by the Bureau when its findings of fact and conclusions of law are identical to those of the Bureau, where, as here, it makes different findings of fact and conclusions of law, it does not abuse its discretion by altering the penalty. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation v. Kobaly, 477 Pa. 525, 384 A.2d 1213 (1978).
In all inspection certificate suspension cases, of course, our scope of review is limited to a determination as to whether or not the findings below are supported by competent evidence or an error of law was committed. And, the order of the court below will generally not be disturbed on appeal absent a showing of manifest abuse of discretion. ...