Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division, at No. GD 83-19776.
John A. Crittenden, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Richard C. Schomaker, Pittsburgh, for appellees.
Montemuro, Roberts and Bloom, JJ.*fn*
[ 347 Pa. Super. Page 469]
The sole issue presented by this appeal is whether appellees, possessing valid automobile insurance policies issued pursuant to the Pennsylvania No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act ["No-fault Act"],*fn1 may recover, as accident related expenses, for services in the nature of physical therapy provided by doctors of chiropractic.
On November 22, 1983, appellees filed a complaint in class action for declaratory judgment and equitable relief in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. By an order dated February 24, 1984, the court below sustained four of appellant's preliminary objections and directed appellees to file an amended complaint setting forth more specifically their claim with regard to physically therapeutic services.
On March 23, 1984, appellees filed an amended class action complaint in assumpsit and for declaratory judgment.
[ 347 Pa. Super. Page 470]
At paragraph three of this complaint, appellees asserted the following:
3. The plaintiffs [appellees] bring this action on behalf of themselves and as representatives of a class of the defendant's insureds to recover money due them, wherein defendant, pursuant to its standard no-fault insurance policy, has failed to pay certain medical expense claims, or, more specifically, those bills pertaining to therapy or treatments in the nature of physical therapy from doctors of chiropractic.
'Therapy' or 'treatment(s) in the nature of physical therapy' from doctors of chiropractic for purposes of this complaint shall mean and include hotpack applications, coldpack applications, massage, mechanical stimulation, electrical stimulation, traction, theraputic [sic] devices, ultrasound and/or other modalities of treatment encompassed within the definition of physical therapy as set forth in the Physical Therapy Practice Act of 63 Pa.Stat.Ann. § 1302, provided in association with other chiropractic care, under the supervision/direction of a licensed chiropractor (as opposed to a licensed physical therapist) and in connection with care of a spinal injury.
On April 13, 1984, appellant filed a preliminary objection in the nature of a demurrer to appellees' amended complaint.
Following discovery, the taking of depositions, the filing of extensive briefs, a hearing, and the agreement of counsel to a limited stipulation, the court below dismissed appellant's preliminary objection on June 12, 1984. Thereafter, in response to a motion by appellant, the court below amended its June 12, 1984 order to include a paragraph certifying its interlocutory ruling for immediate appeal and staying any further proceedings below pending appeal. On September 26, 1984, this court granted appellant's petition for permission to appeal an interlocutory order.
[ 347 Pa. Super. Page 471]
Initially, we note that, in attempting to ascertain and implement the pertinent legislative intent behind the No-Fault Act in close cases, courts must err, if at all, in favor of extending coverage to insureds. See Steppling v. Pennsylvania Page 471} Manufacturers' Association Insurance Company, 328 Pa. Super. 419, 477 A.2d 515 (1984); Bills v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, 317 Pa. Super. 188, 463 A.2d 1148 (1983). Furthermore, one of the legislature's avowed purposes in enacting the No-fault Act was to ...