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TOWNSHIP UPPER ST. CLAIR v. COUNTY ALLEGHENY (03/07/88)

decided: March 7, 1988.

TOWNSHIP OF UPPER ST. CLAIR, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION ON BEHALF OF ITSELF AND ALL OTHER SIMILARLY SITUATED MUNICIPALITIES OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY, APPELLANT
v.
THE COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION; AND JOHN C. KYLE, CLERK OF COURTS OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, in case of Township of Upper St. Clair, a municipal corporation, on behalf of itself and all other similarly situated municipalities of Allegheny County v. The County of Allegheny, a municipal corporation, and John C. Kyle, Clerk of Courts of Allegheny County, No. GD 86-03295, dated October 21, 1986.

COUNSEL

E. J. Strassburger, with him, Robert N. Hackett and Bernadette Puzzuole, Strassburger, McKenna, Gutnick and Potter, for appellant.

Byron D. Xides, Assistant County Solicitor, with him, Ira Weiss, Deputy County Solicitor, and James J. Dodaro, County Solicitor, and Robert C. Gallo, Gallo, Weiner & Coletta, for appellees.

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

Author: Colins

[ 114 Pa. Commw. Page 275]

Appellant, Township of Upper St. Clair, appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which denied class certification as to appellant's complaint against appellee, The County of Allegheny (County), and dismissed the County as a defendant in the action.*fn1 The pertinent facts are as follows:

Appellant filed a class action complaint against the county on behalf of itself and all other municipalities similarly situated. This complaint alleged that the procedure adopted by the County and Clerk of Courts of Allegheny County (Clerk) for disbursement of fines received from those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance (DUI) was contrary to Section 3573(b)(3) of the Judicial Code (Code), 42 Pa. C. S. § 3573(b)(3).*fn2

The trial court concluded in its opinion that suit against the County was inappropriate for two reasons: (1) that the County neither collected nor retained any DUI fines; and (2) that no prior claim had been made by the municipalities on the County Controller.

[ 114 Pa. Commw. Page 276]

We first note that our scope of review is limited to a determination of whether the trial court committed an error of law or an abuse of discretion. Coretsky v. Board of Commissioners of Butler Township, 103 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 28, 519 A.2d 571 (1987).

Appellant argues that the County is a proper party to the class action litigation where damages are sought for improper retention of criminal fines where the money, although first paid to the Clerk, is later deposited by and inures to the benefit of the County. For the following reasons, we agree.

Section 3572 of the Code, 42 Pa. C. S. § 3572, provides:

Except as otherwise provided in this subchapter, all fines forfeited, recognizances and other forfeitures imposed, lost or forfeited and fees and costs collected in the court of common pleas, or community court established for a judicial district embracing a county, or in a magisterial district within the county, or in ...


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