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ANNA STEINER AND DAVID STEINER v. CITY PITTSBURGH (05/27/86)

decided: May 27, 1986.

ANNA STEINER AND DAVID STEINER, HER HUSBAND, MICHAEL STEINER, A MINOR BY ANNA STEINER, HIS GUARDIAN AND DOUGLAS STEINER, A MINOR BY ANNA STEINER, HIS GUARDIAN, APPELLANTS
v.
THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, in case of Anna Steiner and David Steiner, her husband, Michael Steiner, a minor by Anna Steiner, his guardian, and Douglas Steiner, a minor by Anna Steiner, his guardian v. The City of Pittsburgh, No. GD 83-21623.

COUNSEL

Kenneth W. Behrend, Behrend, Morrow, Ernsberger and Moran, for appellants.

Robert B. Smith, Assistant City Solicitor, with him, D. R. Pellegrini, City Solicitor, for appellee.

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

Author: Colins

[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 441]

Anna and David Steiner, husband and wife, and their minor children, Michael and Douglas Steiner (appellants) appeal an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which granted the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings filed by the City of Pittsburgh (appellee) and dismissed their Amended Complaint as barred by the "Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act" (Code).*fn1

In the procedural posture of this case, we are confronted not with the merits, as such, but solely with the issue of whether the allegations in appellants' Amended Complaint were sufficient to warrant a trial.*fn2 Our reading of the pleadings confirms the conclusion of the trial court that appellants' suit was barred.

[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 442]

Appellants' Amended Complaint in trespass sought damages for the physical, emotional and economic harm caused by the "wanton and reckless misconduct [of appellee] and by [its] violation of statutorily declared public interests." We accept as true*fn3 the following facts. On December 29, 1981, the appellant, Mrs. Steiner, upon hearing an intruder enter her home, dialed "911" on her telephone, the number of the public emergency center operated by appellee.*fn4 Mrs. Steiner had time to give her address to the "911" operator before the intruder entered her room. By appellants' averments:

The operator ignored Mrs. Steiner's pleas for help . . . It was willful, wanton and malicious conduct that an information clerk working on an emergency telephone system would not report that she had 'missed' some information, instead of notifying her supervisor, she decided to make a judgment and evaluate the severity of the complaint by totally ignoring the complaint.

[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 443]

Mrs. Steiner was raped by the intruder; he was never apprehended.

Appellee filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings in which it averred that appellants' suit was barred by the doctrine of governmental immunity, and by an order and opinion dated December 3, 1984, the trial court granted said Motion and dismissed appellants' Amended Complaint. In its abbreviated opinion, the trial court found that suit was barred by the Code and, in addition, was controlled by this Court's decision in ...


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