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JOHN A. SIPPOS v. ELEANOR B. RICHARDS ET AL. (05/12/88)

decided: May 12, 1988.

JOHN A. SIPPOS, AN INCOMPETENT, BY IRENE SIPPOS, HIS GUARDIAN, APPELLANT
v.
ELEANOR B. RICHARDS ET AL., APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, in the case of John A. Sippos, an Incompetent, by Irene Sippos, his Guardian v. Eleanor B. Richards and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation and County of Allegheny v. Borough of Pleasant Hills, No. GD 86-00478.

COUNSEL

Michael Ira Markowitz, for appellant.

Robert McDermott, Deputy Attorney General, with him, Thomas L. Donahoe, Deputy Attorney General, Mark E. Garber, Chief, Tort Litigation Unit, Department of Transportation, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for appellees.

Judges MacPhail and Colins, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 125]

Appellant John A. Sippos appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which granted Appellee Department of Transportation's (Department) motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissed Appellant's amended complaint against the Department. We affirm.

On June 11, 1984, Appellant was injured when his motorcycle collided with a vehicle driven by Appellee Eleanor B. Richards, at the intersection of Curry Hollow Road and Arbor Lane in the Borough of Pleasant Hills, Allegheny County. In an amended complaint filed June 11, 1986, Appellant alleged that the Department and the County of Allegheny had a joint duty to improve and maintain the portion of Curry Hollow Road on which the accident occurred and that the Department was negligent in failing to install a traffic light at the intersection of Curry Hollow Road and Arbor Lane prior to Appellant's accident. The Department thereafter filed an answer and new matter to the amended complaint, and Appellant responded with a reply to new matter.

[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 126]

The Department, on September 30, 1986, filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. In the motion, the Department alleged that it had neither a statutory nor a common law duty to erect traffic controls at the intersection in question. On December 17, 1986, the court of common pleas granted the motion and dismissed Appellant's amended complaint.

In an appeal of a grant of judgment on the pleadings, our scope of review of the common pleas court order is limited to a determination of whether there has been an error of law or abuse of discretion. Agostine v. School District of Philadelphia, 106 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 492, 527 A.2d 193 (1987). We note that a motion for judgment on the pleadings may only be granted in cases where no material facts are at issue and the law is so clear that a trial would be fruitless. E-Z Parks, Inc. v. Philadelphia Parking Authority, 110 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 629, 532 A.2d 1272 (1987).

Appellant argues, first of all, that the pleadings do not disclose whether the portion of Curry Hollow Road on which the accident occurred was adopted as a state highway pursuant to Section 101 of what is known as the "State Highway Act of 1961" (Act), Act of September 18, 1961, P.L. 1389, as amended, 36 P.S. § 1758-101. This assertion is based on the fact that Appellant, in his reply to new matter, denied the Department's claim that the road was a state highway and that the Department's duties and obligations were limited by Section 103 of the Act, 36 P.S. § 1758-103.*fn1

[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 127]

As this Court has stated previously, "[a] motion for judgment on the pleadings is in the nature of a demurrer in which all of the opposing party's well-pleaded allegations are viewed as true, but only those facts specifically admitted by the objecting party may be considered against him." E-Z Parks, 110 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. at 633, 532 A.2d at 1275. Appellant's claim in the case before us is that the Department's allegation that Curry Hollow Road is a state road and that, accordingly, the Department's obligations with ...


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