No. 158 Philadelphia, 1982, Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Philadelphia County, No. 5302 July Term, 1974.
Carl N. Martin, II, Philadelphia, for appellants.
Stephen S. Phillips, Philadelphia, for Aktiengesellschaft, appellee.
Charles W. Craven, Philadelphia, for Volkswagen Atlantic, appellee.
Donald J. Sweeney, Philadelphia, for Towne, appellee.
Brosky, Wieand and Cirillo, JJ.
[ 318 Pa. Super. Page 228]
Does a state court action against a distributor and a retailer of an allegedly defective motor vehicle survive after an action in a federal court against the manufacturer and the importer has resulted in a final determination that the vehicle was not defective? The trial court held that the state court action was barred by res judicata and collateral estoppel and entered summary judgment in favor of the distributor and retailer. We affirm. Further proceedings in the state court action are barred by principles of collateral estoppel.
Mrs. Nancy V. Day was seriously injured when the Volkswagen van which she was driving through an intersection in the City of Philadelphia was struck by a vehicle whose driver had disregarded a red traffic signal. After settling claims against the driver of the offending vehicle, Norman and Nancy Day filed simultaneous actions in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County alleging that the Volkswagen van had been dangerously defective because not equipped with a harness type seat belt, a condition which was alleged to have contributed to Mrs. Day's injuries.
The 1968 Volkswagen Type II Van driven by Mrs. Day at the time of the accident had been manufactured and equipped by Volkswagenwerk Aktiengesellschaft (VWAG) in West Germany. It was imported in the United States by Volkswagen of America, Inc. (VWOA), a New Jersey corporation.
[ 318 Pa. Super. Page 229]
At point of entry, title to the vehicle was transferred to Volkswagen Atlantic, Inc. (VW Atlantic), a Delaware corporation and the regional distributor servicing dealers in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The retailer from whom the Days purchased the van was Towne Volkswagen, Inc. (Towne), a Pennsylvania corporation doing business in Philadelphia.
In the complaint filed in the federal court the named defendants were VWAG, the manufacturer of the van, and VWOA, the importer. The claim was based upon negligence, breach of express and implied warranties and strict liability under Section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts for an alleged defect in the ...