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STELLA FITZPATRICK v. SPERO A. BRANOFF SR. AND JUDITHA A. BRANOFF (12/30/83)

decided: December 30, 1983.

STELLA FITZPATRICK, APPELLANT,
v.
SPERO A. BRANOFF SR. AND JUDITHA A. BRANOFF, APPELLEES



No. 43 M.D. Appeal Dkt. 1983, Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court at No. 151 Harrisburg, 1980, filed May 13, 1983, reversing the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County filed July 2, 1980, at No. 5994 S 1979

COUNSEL

Richard H. Wix, Bernadette Barattini, Harrisburg, for appellant.

Neil J. Rovner, Harrisburg, for appellees.

Roberts, C.j., and Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson and Zappala, JJ. Hutchinson, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Mcdermott

[ 504 Pa. Page 170]

OPINION

At issue in this appeal is whether pursuant to the Pennsylvania No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act*fn1 (No-Fault) an insured may have separate causes of action for personal injury and property damage arising out of the same negligent act. The facts are set forth below.

On December 24, 1977, appellees Spero A. Branoff, Sr. and Juditha Branoff were involved in a vehicular accident with appellant Stella Fitzpatrick, which resulted in property damage as well as personal injuries to Spero A. Branoff, Sr. In October of 1978, appellees brought an action in trespass for property damages only. Following an Arbitration Hearing appellees were awarded compensation for the fair market

[ 504 Pa. Page 171]

    value of their automobile. Payment in full was made and the trespass action was terminated.

On December 18, 1979, appellees instituted a second action in trespass arising out of the same accident, this time asserting a claim for personal injuries. Additionally, appellee, Juditha Branoff asserted a claim for loss of consortium. Appellees alleged that as a result of the injuries sustained, Spero Branoff, Sr. was unable to perform his employment on a continual basis from December 24, 1977, to approximately March 20, 1979.

Appellant filed Preliminary Objections to this second complaint citing appellees' failure to assert both their personal and property damage claims in the initial action. In July of 1980, the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County sustained the Preliminary Objections.

An appeal was taken to the Superior Court, 313 Pa. Super. 562, 460 A.2d 330, which reversed the order of the lower court and remanded the case for further disposition. The Superior Court reasoned that as a result of the Pennsylvania No-Fault Act, there now exists separate causes of action for personal injury and property damage and appellees were not obliged to join these claims in one petition. The Superior Court further noted that even if injured parties know that a no-fault threshold for their personal injuries has been reached before they institute their initial action for property damage, there is no requirement that they ...


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