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PRITZ AUTO v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/26/88)

decided: January 26, 1988.

PRITZ AUTO, INC., PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, STATE BOARD OF VEHICLE MANUFACTURERS, DEALERS AND SALESPERSONS, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the State Board of Vehicle Manufacturers, Dealers and Salespersons in the case of Pritz Auto, Inc. v. Chrysler Corporation, Dodge Division, File No. 86 60 0529, dated October 17, 1986.

COUNSEL

Frederick J. Fanelli, James J. Riley and Associates, P.C., for petitioner.

John F. Alcorn, Assistant Counsel, Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, with him, Joyce McKeever, Acting Chief Counsel, Department of State, for respondent.

Michael O'S. Floyd, with him, Joseph D. Olivieri, Drinker, Biddle & Reath, for intervenor, Chrysler Corporation.

Judges Craig and Colins, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 90]

Pritz Auto, Inc. (Pritz) appeals a decision of the State Board of Vehicle Manufacturers, Dealers and Salespersons (board) that dismissed Pritz's protest to the action of Chrysler Corporation (Chrysler) in establishing a new Dodge car and Dodge truck dealership at an existing Chrysler-Plymouth dealership, Seitzinger Motors, Inc. (Seitzinger). The board concluded that Pritz had not shown that good cause existed for barring the addition of the Dodge car and Dodge truck lines to Seitzinger.

The issues that Pritz raises on this appeal are (1) whether Chrysler's failure to provide written notice to Pritz and to the board as required by statute should be fatal automatically to the establishment of the new dealership, that is, whether the board committed error of law by proceeding to the good cause hearing despite the fact that Chrysler failed to give written advance notice of the dealership proposal, and (2) whether the board erred in its finding that good cause did not exist for prohibiting the proposed new dealership.

[ 113 Pa. Commw. Page 91]

The principal facts relating to the first of these issues, as found by the board, are not in dispute. Pritz is located in Minersville, Schuylkill County, and is a licensed vehicle dealership that sells Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, and Dodge Truck products. Seitzinger is located in Frackville, Schuylkill County, and is a licensed vehicle dealership that, before November 22, 1985, sold only Chrysler and Plymouth products. Pritz is located within a ten-mile radius of Seitzinger as measured by a straight-line method; they are more than ten road miles apart by the ordinary and customary routes, although less than ten by one route.

Chrysler did not notify the board or Pritz in writing of its intention to establish an additional new vehicle dealership within ten miles of an existing same-line dealer; however, Nicholas Pritiskutch, principal of Pritz, had actual notice of Chrysler's agreement with Seitzinger in late 1985. Chrysler has no internal formal appeals procedure regarding the establishment of new dealerships. Pritz filed its protest with the board on June 19, 1986. Chrysler Corporation intervened in the proceeding, and it participated, along with Seitzinger and Pritz, at the formal hearing before board member Arthur Loch on August 25, 1986. The board rendered its decision on October 17, 1986, and Pritz timely appealed.

Lack of Written Notice

The statute governing matters relating to the establishment and operation of new motor vehicle dealerships within the Commonwealth is the Board of Vehicles Act, Act of December 22, 1983, P.L. 306, as amended, 63 P.S. ยงยง 818.1-818.28. The particular section of that Act on which ...


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