Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northumberland County, in the case of Theresa Bickert v. Borough of Riverside, Riverside Borough Police Department, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Chris A. Share, No. CV-85-1883.
John A. Statler, Goldberg, Katzman & Shipman, P.C., for appellant.
Robert B. Hoffman, Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellees.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge McGinley, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.
[ 118 Pa. Commw. Page 92]
Theresa Bickert appeals a Northumberland County Common Pleas Court order sustaining the preliminary objections of the Borough of Riverside (Borough) and
[ 118 Pa. Commw. Page 93]
the Riverside Borough Police Department (Department). We affirm in part and reverse and remand in part.
Bickert was a passenger in a vehicle driven by defendant Chris Share when it crossed into a speed detection zone set up by the Department. Upon ascertaining that the Share vehicle was speeding, a patrolman initiated pursuit which developed into a high-speed chase and ended when Share's vehicle crashed. Bickert was rendered a quadraplegic and another passenger, Wayne Force, was killed.*fn1
Bickert filed a complaint against the Borough and Department, averring that the police negligently engaged in pursuit and that the Department negligently failed to train and instruct its officers and establish procedures and guidelines for vehicular pursuits.*fn2 The common pleas court dismissed the complaint based on its determination that none of Bickert's allegations of negligence fell within the vehicle liability exception to governmental immunity under Section 8542(b)(1) of the Judicial Code (Code), 42 Pa. C.S. § 8542(b)(1), commonly referred to as the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act.
The vehicle liability exception provides:
(b) Acts which may impose liability. -- The following acts by a local agency or any of its employees may result in the ...