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CAMP JOY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (11/23/82)

decided: November 23, 1982.

CAMP JOY, INC., PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, PENNHURST CENTER, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Board of Claims in case of Camp Joy, Inc. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Welfare, Pennhurst Center, No. 622.

COUNSEL

Katharine S. Brigham, Wilson & Ryan, for appellant.

Bruce G. Baron, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

Judges Blatt, Williams, Jr. and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Blatt

[ 70 Pa. Commw. Page 143]

Camp Joy, Inc. (Camp Joy) appeals here from an order of the Board of Claims in favor of the Department of Public Welfare and the Pennhurst Center (Pennhurst) and denying Camp Joy recovery on a written contract.

Camp Joy is a non-profit organization which operates a summer camp in Chester County, Pennsylvania. It entered into an agreement with Pennhurst, a state institution for mentally retarded individuals, to provide summer camping for the residents of the institution during the summer of 1978. The contract called for a maximum of 75 campers at $150 each, at a total cost of $11,250. One person was to be considered one unit, and each person was to stay at the camp for one week.

The previous practice of the parties had been for Pennhurst to notify Camp Joy several days in advance

[ 70 Pa. Commw. Page 144]

    as to how many campers would be arriving the next Sunday for the following week of camping. For the last two weeks of the season, Camp Joy was notified by telephone that 19 people would be arriving and applications for that number were provided and processed in preparation. Nine of the prospective campers, however, refused to and did not attend, leaving the camp with nine unfilled spaces. Pennhurst made no attempt to notify Camp Joy of the "no-shows" and, in fact, Camp Joy did not become aware of them until the campers arrived. Camp Joy, prepared for nineteen instead of ten campers, billed Pennhurst at $150 a person as per the contract, but Pennhurst refused to pay. It is the cost for these nine "no-shows", which Camp Joy unsuccessfully sought before the Board of Claims, which is now before us on review.

In cases appealed from the Board of Claims, this Court must affirm unless the Board's order is not in accordance with the law or there is no substantial evidence to support the findings of fact. Department of Public Welfare v. Ludlow Clinical Laboratories, Inc., 64 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 178, 439 A.2d 242 (1982). This case, however, raises legal questions of contract interpretation and is clearly within our scope of review. State Highway & Bridge Authority v. E.J. Albrecht Co., 59 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 246, 430 A.2d 328 (1981).

We must first look to the contract itself, where the sentence in question reads: "Vendor will be paid for actual units of service provided." The parties differ as to the correct interpretation of the word "provide." Pennhurst claims that its obligation to pay arises only when the campers do indeed attend and use the facilities; Camp ...


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