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CROZER-CHESTER MEDICAL CENTER AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND COUNSELING CENTER v. THOMAS MAY (02/18/86)

filed: February 18, 1986.

CROZER-CHESTER MEDICAL CENTER AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND COUNSELING CENTER
v.
THOMAS MAY, MIRIAM ANDREWS, JOAN E. ANDREWS, ROBERT E. MORAN AND MARY ANN MORAN, APPELLANTS



Appeal from the Decree of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Delaware County at No. 82-3262.

COUNSEL

Gerry Woods and Joseph C. Cascarelli, Philadelphia, for appellants.

Donald T. Petrosa, Media, for Crozer, appellee.

Arthur Levy, Media, for Reproductive, appellee.

Wickersham, Brosky and Tamilia, JJ. Brosky, J., files a concurring opinion.

Author: Wickersham

[ 352 Pa. Super. Page 53]

This is an appeal by five pro-life appellants who are seeking the reversal of an injunction prohibiting their presence on appellees' private property.

Appellees are Crozer-Chester Medical Center (hereinafter "CCMC") and Reproductive Health and Counseling Center (hereinafter "RHCC"). CCMC is a private, non-profit hospital and medical complex situated on a large plot of land in Upland, Chester, Delaware County. One of CCMC's buildings, located approximately in the center of its 68 acre property, is leased by CCMC to a private corporation known as RHCC. RHCC provides numerous reproductive health services, such as education, gynecological services, pregnancy testing, vasectomies, and first trimester abortions, the last service being the reason behind the instant controversy.*fn1 RHCC is bordered on three sides by parking areas; on its remaining side, it is bordered by Seminary Avenue, a private road owned exclusively by CCMC. The closest public road is Upland Avenue, which RHCC faces at a distance of approximately 600 feet, and which is the principal means of entrance to and exit from the facilities of CCMC.

Over the last decade, appellants,*fn2 none of whom are employees, staff, patients, or invited guests of either CCMC or RHCC, individually and/or in concert with the other

[ 352 Pa. Super. Page 54]

    appellants, have been picketing, praying, demonstrating, and passing out pro-life literature along Seminary Avenue (which until August 1977 was a public road) and at its intersection with Upland Avenue. All of these activities have taken place in violation of CCMC's general written hospital policy prohibiting solicitation in or upon its property. In more recent years, the situation has grown steadily worse in that some or all of the appellants have ventured onto the parking lots adjacent to RHCC, physically accosted patients and staff, pointed cameras at patients entering or leaving RHCC and CCMC, and physically blocked the entrance to RHCC. Appellees' requests for appellants either to leave the premises or desist in the above activities were repeatedly met with resistance. Because appellants' actions caused concern among the patients, employees, and staff of appellees and disrupted the smooth and efficient operation of CCMC, CCMC eventually resorted to calling the Upland police to have the various appellants forcibly removed. As a result, each of the appellants has been arrested on at least one or more occasions for his or her refusal to leave the property of appellees.

Sanctions at law having proved ineffective*fn3 and faced with both escalating protests and appellants' expressed intention to continue their activities at or about the premises of CCMC and RHCC, appellees requested an injunction enjoining the continued and threatened trespasses by appellants on their property and the continued and threatened harassment of appellees' patients, employees, and staff. On March 18, 1982, the Honorable Howard F. Reed, Jr., of

[ 352 Pa. Super. Page 55]

    the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting appellants from entering upon appellees' private property and from otherwise interfering with appellees' business of providing health care. At least twelve hearings were held from March 1982 through September 1982, and the court viewed the premises involved. On February 10, 1984, the Honorable Louis A. Bloom entered a Decree Nisi which essentially continued the preliminary injunction entered two years before.*fn4 Appellants filed 140 exceptions, but following argument before the court en banc, their exceptions, many of which were devoted to the morality of abortion, were dismissed and the Decree Nisi was made final on November 9, 1984. Appellants filed this timely appeal.

Appellants, who are represented by several attorneys, raise a number of issues on appeal, many of which overlap.*fn5

[ 352 Pa. Super. Page 56]

Essentially we are asked to determine whether the lower court erred in 1) failing to find that at least portions of appellees' private property constitute an appropriate forum for appellants' activities under the federal and/or state constitution; 2) failing to find that CCMC's no solicitation policy is vague, arbitrary, and discriminatory, and therefore ...


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