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ELWOOD MILLER AND MARGARET MILLER v. MRS. WILLIAM JOHNSON AND ALLENTOWN SCHOOL COSMETOLOGY (11/18/81)

decided: November 18, 1981.

ELWOOD MILLER AND MARGARET MILLER, HIS WIFE, APPELLANTS,
v.
MRS. WILLIAM JOHNSON AND THE ALLENTOWN SCHOOL OF COSMETOLOGY, INC.; DORIS L. STRUNACK, APPELLANT, V. CLAIR R. ECKER AND GUIDO ROBERT ECKER



No. 80-3-503, Appeal from the Superior Court, Order dated December 14, 1979, Affirming a Final Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County, Dated June 7, 1979, In Trespass, Affirming the Appellees' Motion for Summary Judgment at No. 601 April Term 1977. No. 81-3-413, (No. 19 October Term, 1979), Appeal from the Superior Court en banc, Order dated January 23, 1981, affirming the Judgment of the Montgomery County Court No. 77-19781 November 30, 1978.

COUNSEL

David S. Shrager, Philadelphia, Ronold J. Karasek, Bangor, for appellants.

Dean B. Stewart, Jr., John O'Rourke, Norristown, Joseph F. Leeson, Anthony C. Santore, Bethlehem, for appellees.

O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, Kauffman and Wilkinson, JJ.

Author: Roberts

[ 496 Pa. Page 291]

OPINION OF THE COURT

At issue in each of the two cases now before the Court is whether chiropractic expenses are "medical services" for purposes of the $750 threshold of the Pennsylvania No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act, Act of July 19, 1974, P.L. 489, § 301(a)(5)(B), 40 P.S. § 1009.301(a)(5)(B) (Supp. 1980). We conclude that "medical services" include chiropractic services and hence reverse the orders of the Superior Court.

[ 496 Pa. Page 292]

Appellant Margaret Miller and appellant Doris Strunack each filed a complaint in trespass alleging negligence on the part of the named defendants for injuries sustained in automobile accidents. Both appellants claimed that these injuries had caused them to incur medical expenses in excess of the threshold amount of $750.00 required for the "maintenance of a cause of action for personal injuries" under the No-Fault Act. Answers to interrogatories revealed that a large portion of the fees claimed for medical expenses consisted of payments for chiropractic services, and that if the amounts paid for chiropractic services were deducted from the totals, the remaining amounts would be less than $750.00.

Proceeding on the theory that expenses for chiropractic services were not properly includable as "medical expenses," appellees sought judgment in their favor. In the case of appellant Miller, appellees filed a motion for summary judgment. The Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County granted the motion and a panel of the Superior Court affirmed per curiam. In the case of appellant Strunack, appellees filed a motion to strike the complaint and dismiss the action. Although the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County initially denied the motion, the court granted the motion upon reargument, on the basis of an intervening per curiam decision by the Superior Court in Babcock v. Tippett, 260 Pa. Super. 583, 394 A.2d 607 (1978). Subsequently, a majority of the Superior Court (Spaeth, J., joined by Cercone, P. J., and Brosky, J., dissenting) affirmed the trial court's order. 283 Pa. Super. 585, 424 A.2d 1355 (1981).

We granted allowance of appeal in both cases and, because they present the same issue of law, we consolidated them for argument and decision.

The relevant section of the No-Fault Act, § 301(a)(5)(B), provides:

"Tort liability is abolished with respect to any injury that takes place in this State in accordance with the provisions of this act if such injury arises out of the ...


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