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DANIEL CATANZARO AND FOX CHAPEL SCHOOL DISTRICT v. WASCO PRODUCTS (03/08/85)

filed: March 8, 1985.

DANIEL CATANZARO AND FOX CHAPEL SCHOOL DISTRICT, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION,
v.
WASCO PRODUCTS, INC., A CORPORATION V. AMERICAN CYANAMID COMPANY. APPEAL OF, DANIEL CATANZARO



No. 00922 Pittsburgh 1983, Appeal from the Judgment entered June 28, 1983 in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil No. GD 81-20145.

COUNSEL

Theodore Goldberg, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Terry L.M. Bashline, Pittsburgh, for Wasco, appellee.

Eric P. Reif, Pittsburgh, for American Cyanamid, appellee.

Rowley, Olszewski and Popovich, JJ.

Author: Olszewski

[ 339 Pa. Super. Page 483]

This is an appeal from an order granting summary judgment in a personal injury action. The lower court held that appellant's personal injury claim was barred by 42 Pa.C.S. Sec. 5536, a twelve year statute of repose relating to real estate construction. Appellant contests the applicability of this statute to his claim.

The facts of this case may be quickly summarized. On or about June 30, 1980, appellant, Daniel Catanzaro, was injured when he fell through an acrylic skylight/skydome located on the roof of Fox Chapel High School. At the time of the accident, appellant was employed by the school as a laborer. Appellant filed suit against appellee, Wasco Products, Inc., alleging, inter alia, that (1) Wasco had manufactured and sold the skydome; and (2) the skydome was defectively designed and improperly constructed. On December 15, 1981, Wasco joined American Cyanamid Company as an additional defendant.*fn1 Both Wasco and American

[ 339 Pa. Super. Page 484]

Cyanamid filed motions for summary judgment based primarily on 42 Pa.C.S. Sec. 5536. The lower court granted these motions and this appeal followed.

The statute at issue in this case is 42 Pa.C.S. Sec. 5536.*fn2 This act disallows any action seeking recovery for personal injuries arising out of an alleged deficiency in design, planning or construction of an improvement to real property brought more than 12 years after completion of the improvement. In Mitchell v. United Elevator Co., Inc., 290 Pa. Super. 476, 434 A.2d 1243 (1981), this Court characterized Sec. 5536 as not merely a statute of limitations, but instead as a statute of repose which effectively abolishes any cause of action which might have existed against a person within the purview of the act.

The threshold question in determining the applicability of Sec. 5536 is whether the action arises from alleged deficiencies in an "improvement to real property." The legislature did not define "improvement to real property" in the act and case law has yet to adopt a general definition of the term. However, Pennsylvania courts, in ...


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