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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JIMMY V. MAYLE (08/11/83)

decided: August 11, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, PETITIONER
v.
JIMMY V. MAYLE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County in case of Jimmy V. Mayle v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, No. 146-1979.

COUNSEL

Brian H. Baxter, Deputy Attorney General, for petitioner.

William M. Panella, for respondent.

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

Author: Crumlish

[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 278]

The Lawrence County Common Pleas Court denied the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's (Commonwealth) motion for judgment on the pleadings. Commonwealth appeals.*fn1 We reverse.

On December 2, 1975, Jimmy V. Mayle filed a complaint in tort in the United States District Court for

[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 279]

    the Western District of Pennsylvania against several parties*fn2 for injuries sustained on a state highway (federal action). In 1976, the parties executed a release under which the suit was dismissed and Mayle was paid $3,000.00 by the defendants. Mayle had also filed a separate suit in the Commonwealth Court against the Commonwealth on December 17, 1975. The Commonwealth, by preliminary objection, raised the sovereign immunity defense. We sustained the objection but, on appeal, our Supreme Court abrogated sovereign immunity and remanded for further proceedings. Mayle v. Pennsylvania Department of Highways, 479 Pa. 384, 388 A.2d 709 (1978). We then transferred this matter to common pleas court.*fn3

The Commonwealth then moved for judgment on the pleadings based on the release executed in the federal action. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that Mayle had not intended to release the Commonwealth from liability. That interlocutory order was then certified for appeal.

The sole issue for review involves the interpretation of the release. The general form release provided, in part, that:

For the sole consideration of ($3,000) Three Thousand Dollars . . . ...


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