Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County in the case of Daniel Rhoads and Mary Rhoads v. Parking Authority of the City of Lancaster, No. 2 June Term, 1982.
William P. Murphy, with him, James E. Beasley and Scott A. Bennett, Beasley, Hewson, Casey, Colleran, Erbstein & Thistle, for appellants.
Allan C. Molotsky, with him, Albert J. Schell, Jr., Post & Schell, P.C., for appellees.
Judges Doyle and Barry, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.
[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 304]
This is an appeal by Daniel Rhoads and Mary Rhoads from two orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County granting summary judgment to Appellees, Lancaster Parking Authority and the City of Lancaster. We affirm.
In late 1966 and early 1967, the Lancaster Parking Authority (Authority) was organized pursuant to the Parking Authority Law.*fn1 The Authority owns the Prince Street Parking Garage in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which it leases to the City of Lancaster (City) and in turn, staffs and operates the garage pursuant to a management contract with the City. It is alleged that on September 11, 1981 at around 2:30 in the afternoon, three shabbily dressed, intoxicated men walked up the driving ramp into the parking garage. They were noticed
[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 305]
by James Bandy, one of the garage attendants. He yelled at them not to walk up the automobile ramp. The men responded with obscenities and continued on their way. Mr. Bandy informed James Painter, the garage manager, of the presence of the three men. Mr. Painter looked up the ramp for the men, saw nothing, and returned to the ticket booth at the garage's exit.
Shortly, thereafter, between 2:40 p.m. and 2:42 p.m., Mr. Rhoads drove his vehicle into the parking garage, received his parking ticket and proceeded to the fifth level of the garage. At about this time, a patron of the garage reported to Mr. Bandy and Mr. Painter that three men were on the fifth level of the garage causing a disturbance. As Mr. Rhoads parked his car, he was accosted by the three men who forced Mr. Rhoads into the back seat of his vehicle. Two of the assailants held him down, while the third occupied the driver's seat. Meanwhile, Mr. Painter proceeded by elevator to the fifth level to investigate the disturbance. He found nothing because the assailants were driving the Rhoads' car out of the garage.
While leaving the garage in Mr. Rhoads' automobile, the assailants hit a concrete barrier. They handed Mr. Rhoads' parking ticket to Mr. Bandy. At this time, Mr. Bandy noticed two people in the back of the Rhoads' vehicle wrestling and "carrying on." Mr. Rhoads' vehicle left the garage at 2:46, four minutes after it had entered. At no time did Mr. Bandy hit the "panic button" located in his ticket booth to summon the police. Subsequently, Mr. Rhoads was blindfolded, bound, and then repeatedly beaten and stabbed by the three assailants. Mr. Rhoads was eventually thrown down a 50-foot embankment and left for dead. His vehicle was later found in the Richmond, Virginia area. In the three years prior to the Rhoads incident, there had been some petty vandalism and car burglaries in the garage but no assaults or any other violent crimes on the premises.
[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 306]
Appellants filed their complaint on June 1, 1982, alleging that the City and the Authority jointly or severally owned, possessed, maintained or controlled the Prince Street Garage; that Mr. Rhoads was a business invitee of the Appellees; that Appellees had notice of criminal activity in the garage and this assault in particular; and that Appellees negligently failed to provide adequate security for its patrons on its premises.
After extensive discovery, the trial court granted summary judgment on September 13, 1984 in favor of the City, on the ground that it had governmental immunity, and could not be sued under the "real property" exception of Section 8542(b)(3) of the Judicial Code (Code)*fn2 because it had relinquished the care, custody and control of the garage to the Authority. On September 24, 1984, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Authority on the grounds that it was a local agency and the criminal assault upon Daniel Rhoads by third parties on the Authority's premises also did not fall within the "real property" exception to governmental immunity.
Appellants appealed both orders to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, which transferred the cases to this Court. Appellants present three issues for our consideration on appeal: (1) whether the Authority is a local agency under Section 8541 of the Code*fn3 and therefore entitled to immunity, (2) whether the proprietary function exception to common law governmental immunity survived the statutory enactment of governmental immunity;*fn4 and (3) whether Appellants' action falls within the "real property" exception to governmental immunity.
[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 307]
This conclusion is in accord with E-Z Parks, Inc. v. Larson, 91 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 600, 498 A.2d 1364 (1985), aff'd per curiam, 509 Pa. 496, 503 A.2d 931 (1986), where the issue was the alleged tortious interference with a lease, and wherein we stated that parking authorities are local agencies for the purposes of Section 8541 of the Code. In E-Z Parks, we wrote that parking authorities, which are public bodies, corporate and politic that exercise public power as an agent of the Commonwealth, clearly meet the definition of a local agency in Section 8501. Id. at 609, 498 A.2d at 1369.
Appellants strongly urge that parking authorities do not come within the definition of "local agency" set forth in Section 8501 of the Code, that is, "[a] government unit other than the Commonwealth government," and present two arguments in support of this contention. First, they argue that when the Code was enacted in 1980, which enactment included the definition of "local agency," the legislature intended to exclude municipal authorities from the definition. Their argument is that the previous statutory governmental immunity law, viz, the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act,*fn8 specifically listed municipal authorities as a governmental body; more specifically, a political subdivision entitled to immunity, whereas the definition of "local agency" in Section 8501 of the Code specifically lists only intermediate units as immune. Therefore, they argue, the legislature intended to exclude ...