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DOROTHY ELLIS v. SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY ET AL. SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY (SEPTA) (05/23/88)

decided: May 23, 1988.

DOROTHY ELLIS
v.
SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY ET AL. SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY (SEPTA), APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, in the case of Dorothy Ellis v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and Harleysville Insurance Company and Keystone Insurance Company, No. 4913 August Term, 1986.

COUNSEL

Steven M. Liero, with him, Leslie Dias, Stephen Dittman and Norman Hegge, for appellant.

John T. Quinn, for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges McGinley and Smith, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 300]

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) appeals a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court order granting Harleysville Insurance Company's (Harleysville) summary judgment motion. We reverse and remand.

Dorothy Ellis was injured when the SEPTA trolley in which she was a passenger collided with two automobiles in Philadelphia. Ellis sought first-party benefits*fn1 under the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (Financial Responsibility Law)*fn2 from Harleysville -- insurer of one of the automobiles. Harleysville, in turn, filed a defendant's complaint against SEPTA and the insurer of the second auto.

SEPTA and Harleysville filed stipulated facts and motions for summary judgment. The common pleas court granted Harleysville's summary judgment motion and directed SEPTA to compensate Ellis because she

[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 301]

    was an uninsured passenger.*fn3 The common pleas court concluded that trolleys are "motor vehicles" under the purview of the Financial Responsibility Law based on Rogers v. SEPTA, 356 Pa. Superior Ct. 432, 514 A.2d 936 (1986).

In reviewing a grant of summary judgment, our scope of review is limited to determining whether the common pleas court committed an error of law or abused its discretion. Farley v. Township of Upper Darby, 100 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 535, 514 A.2d 1023 (1986). Summary judgment is only proper when, after examining the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant clearly establishes that he or she is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Kuehner v. Parsons, 107 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 61, 527 A.2d 627 (1987).

SEPTA argues that the common pleas court erroneously termed its trolley a motor vehicle and, therefore, it is not liable under the Financial Responsibility Law. SEPTA distinguishes Rogers, arguing that it involved a trackless trolley, while ...


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