Appeal from the order of the Superior Court at Nos. 246, 247, and 248 Harrisburg, 1982, reversing the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County at No. 5116 S 1978.
Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ.
Appellant, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (hereinafter "State Farm"), appeals the order of the Superior Court reversing the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County which denied Richard A. Neyhard's (hereinafter "Neyhard") Petition to Intervene.
The relevant facts are as follows. On November 14, 1978, Cynthia Wilson, as administratrix of the estate of Keith Wilson, her deceased husband, [hereinafter "Wilson"] instituted an action against State Farm Mutual Insurance Company for recovery of post-mortem work loss benefits due from State Farm in the event of a motor vehicle accident. These benefits were sought pursuant to the
Pennsylvania No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act.*fn1 Thereafter, on November 3, 1980, Wilson filed a class action complaint on behalf of herself and all previously employed Pennsylvania residents, insured by State Farm, who sustained fatal injuries in motor vehicle accidents within two (2) years before her husband's death. On July 21, 1981, the trial court certified by order two (2) sub-classes defined as follows:
1) Where the decedent is survived solely by a spouse; a spouse and minors; or solely minors.
2) Where the decedent is not survived by a spouse or minors, but survived solely by other survivors as delineated in § 103 of the No-Fault Act.*fn2
Pursuant to request, State Farm provided Wilson with a list of individuals who may have fallen into the groups as established in the certification order. The list as provided by State Farm included fifty-three (53) individual cases that State Farm did not recognize as dependent nor fit into the two (2) certified groups. Nevertheless, all individuals, including the extra cases, received notice informing them of the pending class action.
Settlement negotiations took place and a Stipulation of Settlement was tentatively agreed to on May 17, 1982. The Superior Court summarized its relevant aspects as follows:
Under the terms of the stipulation of settlement, class one encompassed ninety-six (96) claims in which each class member was admittedly or presumptively dependent upon the decedent and no statute of limitations defense existed; class two encompassed one hundred and thirty-three (133) claims in which dependency was similarly admitted or presumed yet the statute of limitations may
not have been properly tolled; class three was comprised solely of the fifty-three (53) "nondependent" claims. It was agreed that class one members would receive in settlement the full value of the applicable policy limits plus two years of interest at the statutory rate of 18% per year, totaling an individual estimated payment of $20,400.00. Class two members would receive one-half of their policy limits plus one and one-half years' interest at the 18% rate, totaling an individual estimated payment of $9,525.00. Class three members would receive individual payments of $6,000.00.
Wilson v. State Farm Mutual Insurance Co., 339 Pa. Super. 576, 581, 489 A.2d 791, 793 (1985).
A Notice of Proposed Settlement was approved by the trial court on May 17, 1982, in accordance with Pa.R.Civ.P. 1714(c).*fn3 Notice was ...