No. 1708 Philadelphia 1981, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Action-Law, of Susquehanna County at No. 1979-1956.
Charles A. Shaffer, Wilkes-Barre, for appellant.
Edward Pope Little, Montrose, for appellee.
Wickersham, Rowley and McEwen, JJ.
[ 313 Pa. Super. Page 326]
This case comes to us after our original decision in Guiton v. Pennsylvania National Mutual Casualty Insurance Company, 301 Pa. Super. 146, 447 A.2d 284 (1982) was reviewed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, 500 Pa. 179, 455 A.2d 108. Our supreme court directs us to reconsider the issue involved in this appeal in light of its recent decision in Sachritz v. Pennsylvania National Mutual Insurance Company, 500 Pa. 167, 455 A.2d 101 (1982). With the guidance provided by Sachritz, supra, we consider again the statute of limitations provisions contained in section 106(c) of the Pennsylvania No-fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act.*fn1
The facts of this case may be summarized as follows. On March 4, 1977, appellee's spouse, James W. Guiton, was killed in an automobile accident. At the time of the accident, James Guiton was covered by a no-fault insurance policy issued by appellant, Pennsylvania National Mutual Casualty Insurance Company. Following the accident, appellee, Blanche M. Guiton submitted a claim to appellant for no-fault benefits. On August 4, 1977, appellant paid Blanche Guiton $1,500.00 for funeral expenses, and $10.00 for ambulance expenses, and in October of 1977, appellant made a final payment to Blanche Guiton of $5,000.00 for survivor's loss benefits.
On November 26, 1979, Blanche Guiton instituted suit against appellant by filing a praecipe for writ of summons and, on January 7, 1980, she filed a complaint in assumpsit against appellant seeking work loss benefits under her deceased spouse's no-fault insurance policy. Appellant filed an answer and new matter to Blanche Guiton's complaint in which it raised the defense of the statute of limitations provisions contained in section 106(c)(2) of the No-fault Act. After the pleadings were closed, appellant filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings in which it again raised the defense of the statute of limitations. The lower court
[ 313 Pa. Super. Page 327]
denied appellant's motion for judgment on the pleadings by order dated May 17, 1981, but certified the order for immediate appeal to our court in accordance with 42 Pa.C.S. § 702(b). Thereafter, appellant petitioned our court for permission to take an immediate appeal from the lower court's order in accordance with Pa.R.A.P. 1311, and we granted the petition by order dated July 9, 1981.
Section 106(c)(2) of the No-fault Act provides in pertinent part: "If survivor's benefits have been paid to any survivor, an action for further survivor's benefits have been paid to any survivor, an action for further survivor's benefits by either the same or another claimant may be commenced not later than two years after the last payment of benefits." In the instant case, appellant made a final payment to Blanche Guiton of $5,000.00 for survivor's loss benefits in October of 1977, and Blanche Guiton commenced the instant action for work loss benefits on November 26, 1979 -- more than two years later.
The lower court found that the limitation contained in section 106(c)(2) on actions for further survivor's benefits applied only to actions for further survivor's loss benefits and did not apply to subsequent actions for work loss benefits. The lower court found no limitation in the No-fault Act on actions for work loss benefits applicable here and, consequently, held that the six year limitation period applicable to general contract actions governed this action for work loss benefits.*fn2
The decision of the supreme court in Sachritz, supra, compels a different result. William Sachritz suffered injuries in an automobile accident on August 16, 1976 and died as a result of those injuries on September 5, 1976. His widow, Ann Sachritz, was paid funeral expense, survivor's benefit, medical expense and work loss benefits for the time between her husband's accident and his death; she received these payments on February 28, 1977. After we filed ...