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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DONALD L. STAHL (06/09/83)

decided: June 9, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF TRAFFIC SAFETY, APPELLANT
v.
DONALD L. STAHL, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County in case of Donald L. Stahl v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety, No. 3036 S 1979.

COUNSEL

John M. Hrubovsak, Assistant Attorney General, with him Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Attorney General, Ward T. Williams, Chief Counsel, and Edward G. Biester, Jr., Attorney General, for appellant.

Gregory J. Ricci, for appellee.

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

Author: Craig

[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 19]

The Department of Transportation appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, which reversed the department's one-year suspension of service station owner Donald L. Stahl's certificate of appointment to conduct motor vehicle inspections.

The department's suspension followed a Pennsylvania state trooper's observation, on May 11, 1979, of mechanic Charles Kline, an employee of Stahl, affixing an inspection sticker to the windshield of an automobile owned by Kline. At that time, the trooper reinspected that vehicle and discovered numerous violations.*fn1 The parties have stipulated that the vehicle did not meet inspection standards.

The trooper continued his investigation, and found that Kline's driver's license had expired on December 31, 1978, and was not renewed until May 18, 1979. In that period, Kline had inspected 245 cars, inspections

[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 20]

    which involved conducting road tests on each car; the department treated the 245 inspections as one violation. In finding two violations of 75 Pa. C.S. § 4727(b)*fn2 -- the inspection of Kline's automobile and the conducting of road tests without a license -- the department suspended Stahl's certificate of appointment for one year,*fn3 under 75 Pa. C.S. § 4724(a), which provides:

The department shall supervise and inspect official inspection stations and may suspend the certificate of appointment issued to a station which it finds is not properly equipped or conducted or which has violated or failed to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter or regulations adopted by the department.

The question here is the extent to which a service station owner, without any proof of personal knowledge, can be held responsible for the actions of his employee. In Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety v. Searer, 50 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 468, 413 A.2d 1157 (1980), we ...


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