Appeals from the Order of the Board of Claims in the case of Craftech International Ltd. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. 405.
Mollie A. McCurdy, Deputy Attorney General, with her, Susan J. Forney and Allen C. Warshaw, Deputy Attorneys General, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for Department of Community Affairs.
Charles J. Weiss, Timoney, Knox, Hasson & Weand, for Craftech International, Ltd.
Judges Rogers, MacPhail and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.
[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 163]
This is an appeal filed following an adjudication of the Board of Claims (Board) on a claim made by Craftech International, Ltd. (Craftech) against the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). After the Board had made an award in favor of Craftech, DCA filed a petition for review (No. 1664 C.D. 1981) arguing that the Board lacked jurisdiction to entertain Craftech's complaint. In the alternative, DCA argues that Craftech failed to sustain its burden of proof as
[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 164]
to damages. Craftech filed a cross petition for review (No. 1792 C.D. 1981) contending that the Board adopted an erroneous method of determining the measure of damages.
The salient facts are as follows. During the third week in June, 1972, Tropical Storm Agnes spread torrential rains across the Commonwealth. The floods which resulted therefrom caused fifty deaths, approximately one and a half billion dollars of damage to property and crops, and left over 250,000 persons homeless. Among the hardest hit were the residents of the Wyoming Valley. In an effort to alleviate the suffering of these flood victims, DCA established emergency mobile home parks. Included within these emergency parks were monolithic*fn1 prefabricated structures which served as community centers. Pursuant to a contract executed on October 6, 1972 with DCA, Craftech agreed to construct a maximum of fifty community centers on prepared foundations in accordance with plans approved by DCA. Although the parties never agreed as to when work on the project would begin,*fn2 the contract required that performance be completed within thirty days after performance did begin. In fact, work did not begin until November 27, 1972 when the first foundation became available. As a result of substantial delays, which extended through the winter of 1972-73, construction of the community centers continued until August 10, 1973 when DCA terminated the contract.
On October 15, 1974, Craftech filed a claim with the Board against DCA alleging breach of contract and seeking damages. After the pleadings had closed,
[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 165]
DCA filed a motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. 1035, in which it argued that the Board lacked jurisdiction because Craftech had failed to file its claim within six months after its cause of action accrued as required by Section 6 of the Arbitration Act (Act), Act of May 20, 1937, P.L. 728, as amended, 72 P.S. § 4651-6. The Board denied the motion; and, by order dated September 17, 1975, this Court dismissed DCA's interlocutory appeal by permission based on our finding that the pleadings raised issues of fact concerning the controlling question of law as to when Craftech's cause of action accrued. On June 30, 1981, following a hearing before the Board, Craftech was awarded $100,590.78 damages. This appeal followed.
Now, with the benefit of a full record, including the Board's findings of fact and conclusions of law, DCA again argues that the Board lacked jurisdiction. In pertinent part, Section 6 of the Act provides that "[t]he board shall have no power and exercise no jurisdiction over a claim asserted against the Commonwealth unless the claim shall have been filed within six months after it accrued." The jurisdictional period begins to run from the time the cause of action arose and that is when the injuried party is first able to litigate the claim. Allen N. Lashner, Inc. v. Department of Highways, 1 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 486, 275 A.2d 403 (1971). A party becomes able to litigate a claim when the amount due under ...