Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County, in the case of Linda J. Jawhar v. Marcell W. Pytlarz, John W. Stoughton and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, No. 335 of 1985, C.A.
Brian H. Baxter, Senior Deputy Attorney General, with him, Mark E. Garber, Chief, Tort Litigation Unit, LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for appellant.
Charles S. Cusick, Jr., with him, Dan P. Wimer, Linda J. Jawhar, Mansell & Jamison, for appellee.
Judges Barry and McGinley, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.
[ 117 Pa. Commw. Page 392]
This Commonwealth's Department of Transportation (DOT) appeals by our permission an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County which ordered
[ 117 Pa. Commw. Page 393]
DOT to turn over certain reports to the plaintiff, Linda Jawhar.
The plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident on May 14, 1983. On May 10, 1985, she sued John H. Stoughton, the driver of the car in which she was a passenger, Marcell W. Pytlerz, the driver of the other car involved in the accident and DOT. Following the filing of numerous responsive pleadings by all parties, the plaintiff, on October 30, 1986, served interrogatories upon DOT, requesting, inter alia, certain reports prepared by DOT pursuant to Section 3754 of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C. S. § 3754. DOT objected on a number of grounds. The trial court decided that DOT should turn over those reports and ordered DOT to do so pursuant to a July 31, 1987 court order. In that order, the trial judge certified the question as one in need of immediate appellate review. On September 21, 1987, this Court granted permission for an immediate appeal of the trial court's interlocutory order.
At the time this complaint was filed, Section 3754 of the Vehicle Code provided:
(a) General Rule. -- The Department, in association with the Pennsylvania State Police, may conduct in-depth accident investigations into the human, vehicle and environmental aspects of traffic accidents for the purpose of determining the causes of traffic accidents and factors which may help prevent similar types of accidents.
(b) Confidentiality of reports. -- Information, records and reports associated with in-depth accident investigations shall not be admissible as evidence in any legal action or other proceeding, nor shall officers or the employees or the agencies charged with the procurement or custody of in-depth ...