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TOWNSHIP RIDLEY v. HAULAWAY TRASH REMOVAL (07/27/82)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: July 27, 1982.

TOWNSHIP OF RIDLEY, APPELLANT
v.
HAULAWAY TRASH REMOVAL, INC., APPELLEE

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in case of Haulaway Trash Removal, Inc. v. Township of Ridley, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, No. 80-11649.

COUNSEL

Peter J. Rohana, Jr., for appellant.

John F. Peoples, for appellee.

Judges Rogers, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 68 Pa. Commw. Page 16]

Ridley Township appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County which granted a motion for summary judgment by Haulaway Trash Removal, Inc. in a quantum meruit claim against the township for $15,290.00 as the balance due for collection

[ 68 Pa. Commw. Page 17]

    of the township's trash*fn1 from April of 1979 through June of 1980.

The township sought outside assistance in removing its trash when it had difficulty maintaining its hauling trucks in good working order. Following an informal survey of price quotations, the township, through an unidentified employee or official, requested Haulaway to begin removing the trash.

Although the township had executed numerous receipts for trash removal and made several payments to Haulaway totaling $12,215.00, it defended the claim for the balance due on the basis that its oral request did not amount to a contract because the elected commissioners, as governing body, had never duly authorized the agreement pursuant to Section 1802 of the First Class Township Code;*fn2 that section requires a

[ 68 Pa. Commw. Page 18]

    municipality to award all public contracts over $2,500.00*fn3 to the lowest competitive bidder. The township also claimed that the employees or officials who initiated the trash removal services were acting beyond the scope of their authority.

The common pleas court based its decision on J.A. & W.A. Hess, Inc. v. Hazle Township, 484 Pa. 628, 400 A.2d 1277 (1979), holding that, because the township knowingly accepted and made partial payment for Haulaway's services, the township was liable in quantum meruit for the value of those services, which were rendered at a fair and reasonable price.

We agree with the trial court that Hazle Township v. City of Hazleton, 45 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 370, 407 A.2d 893 (1979) is inapplicable. Unlike that case, where the township never assented to the construction of the sewer or indicated any intention to contribute to its construction, the township's actions herein signing the load receipts and paying Haulaway through May of 1980 evidenced an "intended agreement which was subsequently voided because of invalid execution." Hazle Township, at 373, 407 A.2d at 894.

Permitting Haulaway to recover in quantum meruit prevents the township from repudiating an obligation after it "has voluntarily accepted and retained the benefits of a contract which it had the power to make but which was defective in the method of its execution." Hess at 633, 400 A.2d at 1279.

Nor can we characterize the situation as one involving municipal employees acting outside the scope of their authority in an individual, non-representative capacity. The township's admission that it continued

[ 68 Pa. Commw. Page 19]

    to pay Haulaway for the services,*fn4 even after it notified Haulaway that competitive bids were necessary, establishes a record of township action tantamount to ratification by the governing body.

Accordingly, we affirm.

Order

Now, July 27, 1982, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, No. 80-11649, dated September 24, 1981, is affirmed.

Order

Now, August 2, 1982, the order in the above-captioned matter issued July 27, 1982 is hereby amended to read as follows:

Now, August 2, 1982, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, No. 80-11649, dated September 24, 1981, is affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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