Original Jurisdiction in the case of Stambaugh's Air Service, Inc. v. Thomas D. Larson, Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Michael Q. Davis, Campbell, Spitzer, Davis & Turgeon, for petitioner.
Andrew H. Cline, Assistant Counsel, with him, Kenneth E. Kendell, Assistant Counsel, Spencer A. Manthorpe, Chief Counsel, and Jay C. Waldman, General Counsel, for respondent, Department of Transportation.
Calvin R. Koons, Deputy Attorney General, with him, Allen C. Warshaw, Executive Deputy Attorney General, Chief, Litigation Section, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondent, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Judges MacPhail and Colins, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins.
[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 475]
Stambaugh's Air Service, Inc. (petitioner) has filed a Petition for Review with this Court challenging the action of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) finding petitioner in default under a number of leases with DOT.*fn1 Specifically, petitioner alleges that
[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 476]
DOT failed to abide by the terms of a written lease requiring DOT to repair the leasehold, sweep and plow the airplane ramps, and grant credits against rent due for improvements made by petitioner to the leasehold, and also that DOT engaged in this course of action as part of a plan to eliminate petitioner's leasehold. Petitioner responded by suspending its rent payments. DOT subsequently found petitioner in default and demanded payment of the rents due. Petitioner, faced with possible termination of its leasehold interest if found to be in default, filed the instant Petition for Review.
Petitioner requests declaratory and injunctive relief including (1) a mandatory injunction that the roof be repaired, (2) an accounting by an independent auditor of the monies owed, (3) an injunction preventing DOT from taking any action which would result in the impairment of petitioner's rights of possession under the leases, (4) a hearing on the Petition for Review to determine the rights and duties of the parties under the leases, and (5) an injunction preventing DOT from entering into any master plan for the Harrisburg International Airport which does not provide facilities for petitioner. DOT has filed preliminary objections to the Petition for Review asserting that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. The sole question before the Court is whether the Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this dispute, or whether such jurisdiction is properly vested in the Pennsylvania Board of Claims.
In Ezy Parks v. Larson, 499 Pa. 615, 626, 454 A.2d 928, 934 (1982), our Supreme Court specifically held
[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 477]
that the Board of Claims has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine all claims against the Commonwealth arising from contracts where the amount in controversy exceeds $300.00 or more. A lease is in the nature of a ...