filed: February 7, 1986.
SALVATORE GRAFFIGNA, APPELLANT,
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA AND SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY
appeal from the Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, Civil at No. 1056, December Term, 1980.
Evan E. Laine, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Stephen Dittman, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Del Sole, Montemuro and Beck, JJ.
Author: Del Sole
[ 351 Pa. Super. Page 75]
On December 8, 1978 the Appellant, Salvatore Graffigna, was held up and shot by an unidentified assailant in the SEPTA subway station at Broad and Race Streets in Philadelphia. Approximately two years later he filed suit against both the City of Philadelphia*fn1 and SEPTA alleging negligence because of inadequate security provisions in the subway concourse. SEPTA filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the Appellant had failed to comply with the six month notice requirement of 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5522. The statute provides:
§ 5522. Six months limitation
(a) Notice prerequisite to action against government unit.
(1) Within six months from the date that any injury was sustained or any cause of action accrued, any person who is about to commence any civil action or proceeding within this Commonwealth or elsewhere against a government unit for damages on account of any injury to his person or property under Chapter 85 (relating to matters affecting government units) or otherwise shall file in the office of the government unit and if the action is against a Commonwealth agency for damages, then also file in the office of the Attorney General, a statement in writing, signed by or in his behalf, setting forth:
[ 351 Pa. Super. Page 76]
(i) The name and residence address of the person to whom the cause of action has accrued.
(ii) The name and residence address of the person injured.
(iii) The date and hour of the accident.
(iv) The approximate location where the accident occurred.
(v) The name and residence or office address of any attending physician.
42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5522.
The trial court granted SEPTA's motion for judgment on the pleadings, finding that SEPTA was a government unit for purposes of the statute and that the Appellant had not provided the required six months notice. Mr. Graffigna then filed this appeal.
Appellant argues that the trial court erred in granting judgment on the pleadings, first, because SEPTA is not a government unit, and alternatively, because even if SEPTA is a government unit, that the full police investigation of the incident fulfills the notice requirement. Because the first issue raised by the Appellant, that is, whether SEPTA is a government unit for purposes of the statute, is an issue which involves the application, interpretation and enforcement of a statute regulating the affairs of political subdivisions, municipalities and other local authorities, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 762(a)(4)(i)(A), we transfer jurisdiction over the appeal to Commonwealth Court.
The applicable section of the Judicial Code which establishes the jurisdiction of Commonwealth Court provides:
§ 762. Appeals from the courts of common pleas
(a) General rule. -- Except as provided in subsection (b), the Commonwealth Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction of appeals from final orders of the courts of common pleas in the following cases:
(4) Local government civil and criminal matters. --
[ 351 Pa. Super. Page 77]
(i) All actions or proceedings . . . where is drawn in question the application, interpretation or enforcement of any:
(A) statute regulating the affairs of political subdivisions, municipality and other local authorities or other public corporations or of the officers, employees or agents thereof . . .
42 Pa.C.S.A. § 762(a)(4)(i)(A). (Emphasis supplied).
The instant appeal raises an issue involving the interpretation and application of a statute which regulates the affairs of government agencies, municipalities and other authorities. The statute in question, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5522, provides a six months notice requirement when a government unit is the defendant in an action and the reviewing court in this case must decide a question which seems to be one of first impression: whether SEPTA is a government unit for purposes of the statute. We find that this case properly belongs before the Commonwealth Court because that court has been given jurisdiction when such an issue has been drawn into question on appeal from a final order from a court of common pleas.
We note at this point that § 762 of the Commonwealth Court jurisdictional statute has permitted the interpretation of certain statutes dealing with local government units and agencies, for example, the Public Employe's Relations Act*fn2 and the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act*fn3 to come
[ 351 Pa. Super. Page 78]
before our Court or Commonwealth Court. Indeed, some overlapping of appellate jurisdiction was foreseen by the Legislature and thus 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 704 provides that the failure of an appellee to object to the jurisdiction of an appellate court operates to perfect jurisdiction of that appellate court notwithstanding any other provisions of the title -- including, obviously, the portion of § 762 cited earlier in this opinion. Sections 704 and 705 also provide that the appellate court can transfer an appeal on its own motion, as we are doing here. The factors to be weighed in reaching a decision to transfer are (1) whether the case has already been transferred; (2) the possibility of establishing two conflicting lines of authority on one subject*fn4; and (3) whether the "legislatively ordained division of labor" would be disrupted. Karpe v. Borough of Stroudsburg, 315 Pa. Super. 185, 187, 461 A.2d 859 (1983); Valley Forge Industries, Inc. v. Armand Construction, Inc., 248 Pa. Super. 53, 374 A.2d 1312, 1316 (1977).
Although this case has not been previously transferred, it would be unrealistic to ignore the fact that by exercising our discretion to transfer, we are delaying the disposition of the case. We believe however that the inconvenience caused to the parties by this delay is outweighed by the benefit brought about by providing a consistent body of law in an area which we believe the Legislature clearly intended would be the province of our sister court. Therefore, for the sake of uniformity of decision and to maintain the "legislatively ordained division of labor", we transfer this case to Commonwealth Court.
This appeal is transferred to Commonwealth Court.
This appeal is transferred to Commonwealth Court.