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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. FELIX GRANITO (11/22/82)

decided: November 22, 1982.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF TRAFFIC SAFETY, APPELLANT
v.
FELIX GRANITO, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Felix Granito, No. 506 of 1977.

COUNSEL

Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Counsel, with him Ward T. Williams, Chief Counsel, and Jay C. Waldman, General Counsel, for appellant.

No appearance for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Blatt and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.

Author: Doyle

[ 70 Pa. Commw. Page 124]

This is an appeal by the Commonwealth Department of Transportation (Department) from a ruling of the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County, reversing the suspension of the driving privileges of Felix Granito by the Department. For the reasons

[ 70 Pa. Commw. Page 125]

    which follow, the Court of Common Pleas must be reversed.

Granito's license and vehicle registration were suspended pursuant to Section 1413 of the Motor Vehicle Code (Code), Act of April 29, 1959, P.L. 58, as amended, formerly 75 Pa. C.S. § 1413, repealed by the Act of June 17, 1976, P.L. 162. The provisions are now found at 75 Pa. C.S. § 1742.*fn1 The Ohio judgment resulted from an automobile accident in Ohio in which Granito's car, driven by his daughter, was involved. Granito appealed the suspension to the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County and his appeal was sustained. The Department appealed to the Commonwealth Court and we remanded for the taking of additional testimony regarding Granito's knowledge of the Ohio proceedings. On remand, neither Granito nor the Department offered additional evidence and the trial court again found the suspension invalid because the Ohio judgment was entered without proper notice to Granito.

This Court, in Pennsylvania Department of Transportation v. Rodgers, 20 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 393, 341 A.2d 917 (1975), held that a judgment debtor cannot be permitted to attack a tort judgment collaterally in a license suspension proceeding. That case involved a driver who was involved in an accident in Colorado and the resulting unsatisfied judgment in that state was invoked to suspend her Pennsylvania driving privileges. We held for the first time in that case that the statutory purpose of Section 1413 was to promote the financial responsibility of drivers and aid in the collection of debts against

[ 70 Pa. Commw. Page 126]

    negligent owners and drivers. We saw no reason to limit the statutory provisions to Pennsylvania judgments and indeed reasoned that the Full Faith and Credit clause of the United States Constitution*fn2 precluded such a limitation.

In Rodgers we also reasoned that due process was not affronted in the refusal to permit a collateral attack on the judgment. We noted that while the United States Supreme Court, in Bell v. Burson, 402 U.S. 535 (1971) had required a hearing in suspension cases for failure to post security against future negligence, once a negligence claim was reduced to judgment, the only due process requirements to be complied with would be to ascertain "that the person whose license is in jeopardy is the same person against whom the judgment was entered." Rodgers, 20 Pa. ...


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