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JOSEPH DAVIS & MARGARET DAVIS v. SCHOOL DISTRICT PHILADELPHIA AND HOLIDAY INN (08/09/85)

decided: August 9, 1985.

JOSEPH DAVIS & MARGARET DAVIS, ADMINISTRATORS OF THE ESTATE OF LOREN DAVIS, DECEASED, APPELLANTS
v.
SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA AND HOLIDAY INN, INC. AND RICHARD DONAHUE AND JAMES SLAUGHTER, APPELLEES. JOSEPH DAVIS & MARGARET DAVIS, ADMINISTRATORS OF THE ESTATE OF LOREN DAVIS, DECEASED, APPELLANTS V. HOLIDAY INNS, INC., (FORMERLY DESIGNATED AS HOLIDAY INNS OF AMERICA, INC.), ET AL., APPELLEES



Appeals from the Orders and Judgments of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in the case of Joseph Davis and Margaret Davis, Adm. of the Estate of Loren Davis, deceased v. Holiday Inns, Inc. and School District of Philadelphia, No. 3075 October Term, 1981 and in the case of Joseph Davis and Margaret Davis, Adm. of the Estate of Loren Davis, deceased v. School District of Philadelphia and Holiday Inn, No. 2574 July Term, 1981.

COUNSEL

Lawrence D. Finney, with him, Michael Coren and Yale F. Ediken, Krimsky, Levy, Angstreich & Finney, P.C., for appellants.

Andrew M. Rosen, with him, Sally Akan, for appellee, School District of Philadelphia.

Wendy M. Johnston Bracaglia, with her, John W. Walter and Charles W. Craven, Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman and Goggin, for appellees, Holiday Inns, Inc.

Judges Rogers, Barry and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 91 Pa. Commw. Page 28]

Joseph and Margaret Davis, whom we will refer to as plaintiffs, for themselves and as the administrators of the estate of their late son, Loren Davis, brought a wrongful death action and a survival action against the School District of Philadelphia (school district) and Holiday Inns, Inc. on account of their son's death. The plaintiffs here appeal from a judgment on the pleadings entered by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County upon the school district's immunity

[ 91 Pa. Commw. Page 29]

    from damages on account of injuries caused by its acts or omissions conferred by the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act (Act).*fn1

The plaintiffs alleged in their complaint that their son was enrolled at a junior high school of the school district; that he participated in a school trip to Virginia; that he and others on the trip were to stay at a Holiday Inn in Richmond, Virginia, during the night on May 24, 1980; that their son sustained injuries when he drowned while swimming in the pool at the Holiday Inn; that on June 21, 1980, their son died as a result of injuries suffered on May 24, 1980; and that negligent acts or omissions of the school district or its employees caused their son's injuries and death. The plaintiffs also alleged that the hotel pool was under the management, supervision, and control of the school district at the time their son was injured.

By Answer, the school district denied the plaintiffs' allegations of negligence and in New Matter invoked the affirmative defense of governmental immunity conferred by the Act.

By Reply, the plaintiffs plead that the defense advanced by the school district based on the Act stated a conclusion of law requiring no reply.

The trial judge concluded that the law of Pennsylvania, rather than that of Virginia, was applicable and that the school district was not liable for damages on account of the decedent's injuries by dictate of Section 201 of the Act.

[ 91 Pa. Commw. Page 30]

The plaintiffs contend first that the trial court should have applied Virginia law, which does not include a provision for governmental immunity. The plaintiffs thus invoke the traditional rule that in tort actions the law of the place of injury applies. In Griffith v. United Air Lines, Inc., 416 Pa. 1, 203 A.2d 796 (1964), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court abandoned the traditional rule and approved in its stead then Section 379 of Tentative Draft No. 8 of the Restatement (Second) Conflict of Laws, now Section 145 of the Restatement (Second) Conflict of Laws (1971), providing that the "rights and liabilities of the parties with respect to an issue in tort are determined by the local law of the state which, with respect to that issue, has the most significant relationship to the occurrence and the parties . . . ," with specific reference to the following contacts:

(a) the place where the injury occurred,

(b) the place where the conduct causing the injury occurred,

(c) the domicil, residence, nationality, place of incorporation and place of ...


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