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GEMMA CRISANTE v. J. H. BEERS (04/02/82)

filed: April 2, 1982.

GEMMA CRISANTE, APPELLANT,
v.
J. H. BEERS, INC.



No. 1665 Philadelphia, 1980, Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Northampton County at No. 1979-C-13162.

COUNSEL

Dwight L. Danser, Easton, for appellant.

William Murphy, Easton, for appellee.

Hester, Cavanaugh and Van der Voort, JJ.

Author: Cavanaugh

[ 297 Pa. Super. Page 338]

In this appeal we are asked to determine whether the two year statute of limitations applicable to actions for "trespass of real property" prevents the pursuance of the instant action alleging negligent infliction of damages to real property.

Appellant, Gemma Crisante, instituted this action in trespass on November 23, 1979. She alleged in her complaint

[ 297 Pa. Super. Page 339]

    that in September 1974, appellee J. H. Beers, Inc., a contractor for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, performed construction work on the state highway in front of her home. On September 25, 1974, appellee allegedly failed to use reasonable and proper care in the operation of its heavy road equipment, including graders and trucks. Its negligent operation of the equipment caused excessive vibrations which resulted in damage to appellant's residence. Appellant did not allege any intentional conduct on the part of appellee.

Appellee, in its answer, raised the defense of the statute of limitations as New Matter. Following appellant's reply to the New Matter, appellee moved for judgment on the pleadings. The trial court granted the motion, dismissed appellant's complaint and entered judgment for appellee. The court based its decision on a finding that the cause of action was barred by a two year statute of limitations.

The Pennsylvania Legislature completely reorganized the statutes of limitations for all causes of action when it enacted the Judicial Code, Act of July 9, 1976, P.L. 586, No. 142, as amended by Act of April 28, 1978, P.L. 202, No. 53. Under prior law, appellant had six years in which to bring her cause of action. 12 P.S. § 31. Appellee contends, however, that the Judicial Code reduces the limitation period from six to two years. The relevant provision, according to appellee, is the one found in 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5524(4), pertaining to actions "for waste or trespass of real property."

Appellant argues that the legislature did not intend Section 5524(4) to apply to causes of action alleging only negligence. In appellant's view, the instant action is instead governed by the "catch-all" provision of 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5527(6). There, the legislature specified a six year statute of limitations for "[a]ny civil action or proceeding which is neither subject to another limitation specified in this subchapter nor excluded from the application of a period of limitation by section 5531 (relating to no limitation)."

No specific provision other than section 5524(4) is arguably applicable to this cause of ...


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