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GERMANTOWN SAVINGS BANK v. CITY PHILADELPHIA (07/07/86)

decided: July 7, 1986.

GERMANTOWN SAVINGS BANK, APPELLANT
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, APPELLEE. I.C.S. CORPORATION, APPELLANT V. CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, APPELLEE



Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, in cases of Germantown Savings Bank v. City of Philadelphia, No. 5803 May Term, 1983 and I.C.S. Corporation v. City of Philadelphia, No. 897 September Term, 1982.

COUNSEL

Stephen A. Cozen, with him, Vincent R. McGuinnes, Jr., Miles A. Jellinek and Michael P. Meehan, Cozen, Begier & O'Connor, for appellants.

Denise D. Colliers, Deputy City Solicitor, with her, Barbara W. Mather, City Solicitor, for appellee.

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

Author: Macphail

[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 510]

The sole issue presented for our disposition in these consolidated appeals is whether Section 8553(d) of the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act (Act), 42 Pa. C.S. § 8553(d) is unconstitutional as violative of equal protection. For the reasons which follow, we hold that Section 8553(d) of the Act is constitutional.

The facts are not in dispute. I.C.S. Corporation and Germantown Savings Bank (Appellants) brought separate subrogation actions against the City of Philadelphia (City) alleging that the City's negligence in inspecting and maintaining certain fire hydrants caused the hydrants to rupture and destroy Appellants' property.*fn1

[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 511]

The trial court determined that the City was not liable for any damages to the extent Appellants were compensated for their injuries by insurance. The court further held that the insurance companies had no right to subrogation, quoting Aetna Casualty and Surety Co. v. Borough of Hamburg, 22 Pa. D. & C. 3d 454, 458 (1982): "the political subdivision's liability for damages is statutorily limited and therefore it is not obligated to pay plaintiff's insured. Certainly, plaintiff's right under subrogation rises no higher than the right of its insured." Trial court opinion at 2-3.*fn2

Section 8553 of the Act provides, in pertinent part:

§ 8553. Limitations on damages

(a) General rule. -- Actions for which damages are limited by reference to this subchapter shall be limited ...


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