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CHARLES J. EGENRIEDER v. OHIO CASUALTY GROUP (08/10/87)

filed: August 10, 1987.

CHARLES J. EGENRIEDER, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF ROBERT A. EGENRIEDER, DECEASED; CHARLOTTE J. CLAIR, ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF JOYCE E. CLAIR, DECEASED; JOYCE E. FLESKE, ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF VICKY ANN FLESKE, DECEASED; JACQUELINE M. SNYDER, ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF GREGORY M. SNYDER, DECEASED; AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, APPELLANTS,
v.
THE OHIO CASUALTY GROUP, WEST AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY, AND OHIO CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order Entered June 19, 1986, in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, Civil No. 3567 S 85.

COUNSEL

Pamela Shuman, Harrisburg, for appellants.

Richard E. Freeburn, Harrisburg, for appellees.

Wieand, Olszewski and Tamilia, JJ.

Author: Olszewski

[ 365 Pa. Super. Page 401]

This is an appeal from the order entered after the trial court dismissed appellants' claims as being time-barred. On appeal, we must determine: (1) whether appellants, members of the certified class, have standing to bring this appeal on behalf of the unnamed plaintiffs whom the trial court refused to certify as members of the class; and (2) whether the trial court erred in dismissing the claims made on behalf of decedents whose fatal accidents occurred between November 16, 1979 and May 15, 1981. For the reasons stated below, we affirm the judgment entered by the trial court.

The facts relevant to an understanding of this appeal are as follows. Appellants' attorney originally filed a class action against thirty-one insurance companies. Our Supreme Court, however, upheld the trial court's ruling that,

[ 365 Pa. Super. Page 402]

    as the representative plaintiff had an insurance policy only with Erie Insurance Exchange, all other defendant insurance companies should be dismissed. Nye v. Erie Insurance Exchange, 504 Pa. 3, 470 A.2d 98 (1983). The attorney then began to file class action suits against the individual insurance companies. This is one of those suits. Plaintiffs-appellants, administrators of estates of decedents who received fatal injuries in motor vehicle accidents, filed the instant action on May 15, 1985 against defendants-appellees for work loss benefits under Pennsylvania's No-fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act (No-fault Act).*fn1 On June 3, 1986, the trial court certified the case as a class action and divided the class into three subclasses. See our discussion infra. One June 13, 1986, plaintiffs-appellants filed a motion to amend the certified classes to include claims made on behalf of decedents whose fatal accidents occurred between November 16, 1979 and May 15, 1981. The trial court denied the motion and subsequently severed and dismissed the claims of the estates of decedents who died between November 16, 1979 and May 15, 1981. This timely appeal followed.

On January 28, 1987, appellees filed a motion to quash appellants' appeal, raising the issue of whether appellants have standing to pursue this appeal. Appellees, in addressing this issue in their brief, summarized their contention as follows:

This appeal is taken by the certified class on behalf of the individuals who the court refused to certify as members of the class. It is clear that the individuals who the court refused to certify as members of the class are no longer parties to the class action. It is equally clear that the interests of the members of the certified class have not been adversely affected by the trial court's refusal to certify other individuals as members of the class. Consequently,

[ 365 Pa. Super. Page 403]

    the certified class lacks standing to ...


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