Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County in the case of In Re: Application of The Family Style Restaurant, Inc., Liquor License Docket No. 1, Page 131.
James H. Thomas, with him Kenneth R. Covelens, Wenger, Byler & Thomas, for appellants.
David Shotel, with him Gary G. Krafft, Notturno, Russell, Krafft & Gruber, for appellee.
Judges Blatt, Williams, Jr. and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Judge Mencer did not participate in the decision in this case.
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On November 13, 1980 a hearing was held before a hearing examiner of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (Board) on the application of The Family
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Style Restaurant, Inc. (applicant) for a new retail restaurant liquor license. Testimony was offered by a representative of the Pentidattillo Corporation, which operates the Italian Villa, a licensed premises located within 200 feet of the applicant's premises, and by a representative of the Lancaster County Tavern Owners Association (Association).
On December 23, 1980, the Board approved the issuance of a license under the resort area exception noted in the Liquor Code, Section 461(b) of the Liquor Code (Code), Act of April 12, 1951, P.L. 90, as amended, 47 P.S. § 4-461(b), and on January 22, 1981, the Association and Frank Roda, averredly the owner of the Italian Villa, appealed. In answering the appeal, the applicant challenged the standing of both parties to maintain an appeal, averring that the Pentidattillo Corporation, rather than Roda, was the owner of the Italian Villa and was also the licensee named in its liquor license. The appellants, in their brief submitted below, "admit and concur with the answer" but argued that the Italian Villa, as a licensee located within 200 feet of the applicant's premises, had been represented at the original hearing and that the corporation, therefore, had standing to appeal as an aggrieved party. On April 13, 1981, the court below held that the corporation had not been named as a party to the action and that it was therefore without standing to appeal. The court also found that the Association was without standing, and dismissed the action.
Pentidattillo Corporation advances several theories under the Liquor Code, the Administrative Agency Law and the Pennsylvania Constitution as to why it has standing in this matter. We need not address these arguments, however, for the controlling law in this area is clear. It is well-settled that amendment
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to correct the name of a party to an appeal will be permitted if the right party was already in court, but no such amendment will be permitted after the running of the controlling statute of limitations if the effect is to bring a new party into court. Hindsley Liquor License Case, 26 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 121, 362 A.2d 1144 (1976). This appeal was brought in the name of Frank Roda, the president of the corporation, rather than in the name of the corporation itself. A corporation is a separate legal entity, distinct from the aggregate of individuals comprising it, Gagnon v. Speback, 389 Pa. 17, 131 A.2d 619 (1957), and this legal entity will not be disregarded merely because the corporation is a licensee under the state liquor laws. Price Bar, Inc. Liquor License Case, 203 Pa. Superior Ct. 481, 201 A.2d 221 (1964). The effect of permitting amendment of the name of a party appellant from that of an officer of the corporation to that of the corporation itself would be to bring a new party onto the record subsequent to expiration of the statute of limitations, Hindsley, and, the Pentidattillo Corporation not having been a party to the appeal prior to the running of the limitations period, the amendment it seeks must be refused as untimely. Hindsley. And, of course, because the corporation was not a timely party to the appeal, it has no standing in this matter here.
As to the standing of the Association, the court below relied on our holding in In re: Application of El Rancho Grande, Inc., 51 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 410, 414 A.2d 751 (1980), and determined that the Association also lacked standing. El Rancho Grande, however, involved an appeal from the granting of a new liquor license by individual competitors in which The ...