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WILLIAM G. DAVIES AND AVIS M. DAVIES v. MICHAEL BARNES (01/10/86)

decided: January 10, 1986.

WILLIAM G. DAVIES AND AVIS M. DAVIES, ADMINISTRATORS OF THE ESTATE OF WILLIAM T. DAVIES, APPELLANTS
v.
MICHAEL BARNES, DELAWARE COUNTY VOCATIONAL-TECHNICAL SCHOOL-ASTON, DELAWARE COUNTY INTERMEDIATE UNIT NO. 25, PENN DELCO UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT AND ROBERT SCHONEWOLF, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in case of William G. Davies and Avis M. Davies, Administrators of the Estate of William T. Davies v. Michael Barnes, Delaware County Vocational-Technical School-Aston, Delaware County Intermediate Unit No. 25, Penn Delco Union School District and Robert Schonewolf, No. 82-10233.

COUNSEL

William J. Gallagher, with him, Michael G. Louis, MacElree, Harvey, Gallagher, O'Donnell & Featherman, Ltd., for appellants.

Ralph B. D'Iorio, Cramp, D'Iorio, McConchie & Forbes, for appellees, Delaware County Vocational-Technical School-Aston and Delaware County Intermediate Unit No. 25.

Phillip B. Silverman, McGettigan, McWilliams and Silverman, for appellee, Penn Delco Union School District.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judges Rogers, Craig, MacPhail, Barry, Colins and Palladino. Opinion by Judge Barry.

Author: Barry

[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 146]

On October 31, 1981, William T. Davies was killed in an automobile accident. His parents, William G. Davies and Avis M. Davies (appellants) as administrators of his estate, filed a complaint in trespass against Penn Delco Union School District, Delaware County Intermediate Unit No. 25 and Delaware County Vocational-Technical School-Aston (appellees). By order dated June 4, 1984, the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County granted appellees' motion for summary judgment and dismissed the complaint on

[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 147]

    the basis that the facts alleged did not fall within any of the exceptions to the general grant of immunity enjoyed by appellees under Section 8541 of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa. C.S. ยง 8541. This appeal followed.

There appears to be no dispute regarding the facts giving rise to this appeal. Decedent was a student at the Delaware County Vocational-Technical School-Aston. At the time of his death, he was riding in a car driven by Michael Barnes, another student, and owned by William Schonewolf, the father of yet another student. The car had been brought to school and processed according to school policy so that students in the auto shop class could work on it. During the course of the day, however, Barnes and Davies took the car for a joy ride and while they were off school property, the accident occurred.

Appellants maintain that their son's death was caused by the appellees' failure to adequately supervise the students' activities. More specifically, they claim that school officials should have detected the smell of alcohol on Michael Barnes' breath and they should have prevented Barnes and Davies from taking the car for a ride. According to appellants, this allegedly negligent conduct falls within either the vehicle liability*fn1 or the real property*fn2 exception to governmental immunity. We disagree.

The vehicle liability exception states that the government shall not be immune from suits involving "the operation of any motor vehicle in the possession or control of the local agency." Appellants maintain that the trial court erred in concluding that this action applies only to situations where the vehicle is actually operated by a ...


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