No. 593 Pittsburgh 1982, Appeal from the Order entered April 26, 1982, Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, Civil Division No. GD77-30499.
David B. Washington, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Henry Miller, III, Pittsburgh, for appellees.
Cavanaugh, Johnson and Montgomery, JJ.
[ 326 Pa. Super. Page 111]
This is an appeal from an order of an en banc Common Pleas Court, Allegheny County, which granted summary judgment based on the application of the doctrine of offensive collateral estoppel. We reverse.
The factual history of this appeal reveals that appellees were former employees of appellant, Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP). Appellees instituted an action in assumpsit to secure payment for the earned but unused sick leave and vacation time they had accumulated upon their retirement from HACP. Their assumpsit claim is based upon certain personnel policies, alleged to have been adopted in the period of 1968 to 1970, which appellees allege provided for such payments. In response to appellees' complaint in assumpsit, HACP filed an answer and new matter. As new matter, HACP asserted that the personnel policies relied upon by appellees and the payments requested pursuant thereto were contrary to certain federal guidelines enacted pursuant to the U.S. Housing Act of 1937, 42 U.S.C. § 1401 et seq., which were applicable to HACP through its contributions contract with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In their reply to new matter and their motion for summary judgment, appellees invoked the doctrine of collateral estoppel based upon judgment entered in a previous action, Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh v. Konrad Dorsch, et al., Nos. G.D. 75-3399-3402 and 75-3405-07 (C.P. Allegheny County filed August 4, 1978), to bar the defense raised in HACP's new matter. By order dated April 26th, 1982, appellees' motion for summary judgment was granted and this appeal was taken.*fn1
[ 326 Pa. Super. Page 112]
Summary judgment is appropriate when the only defense presented is for some reason rendered invalid. See e.g. Hilton v. State Employees Retirement Board, 470 Pa. 301, 368 A.2d 640 (1977). The offensive invocation of collateral estoppel to bar a defense raised is a proper ground to grant summary judgment when, properly applied, the doctrine eliminates all issues of material fact and entitles the moving party to judgment as a matter of law. See Day v. Volkswagenwerk Aktiengeselschaft, 318 Pa. Super. 225, 464 A.2d 1313 (1983).
In Day, a panel of this court delineated the following requirements for the applicability of collateral estoppel:
The doctrine of collateral estoppel is a broader concept than res judicata. It operates to prevent a question of law or an issue of fact which has once been litigated and adjudicated finally in a court of competent jurisdiction from being relitigated in a subsequent suit . . . . Unlike res judicata, there is no requirement that there be an identity of parties between the two actions to invoke the bar. "Parties to a subsequent action need not be the same as those in the prior suit in order to raise the question of collateral estoppel. Collateral estoppel may be used as either 'a sword or a shield' by a stranger to the [prior] action, as long as the party against whom the defense is invoked is the same." . . . "'[A] plea of collateral estoppel is valid if, 1) the issue decided in the prior adjudication was identical with the one presented in the later action, 2) there was a final judgment on the merits, 3) the party against whom the plea is asserted was a party or in privity with a party to the prior adjudication, and 4) the party against whom it is asserted has had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the question in a prior action.'" . . .
Id., 318 Pa. Superior Ct. at 236-37, 464 A.2d at 1318-1319 (citations omitted) (brackets in ...