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BENSALEM TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (07/29/88)

decided: July 29, 1988.

BENSALEM TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT, AND ROBERT DEWEY IN HIS OWN RIGHT AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHER TAXPAYERS OF BENSALEM TOWNSHIP, AND MARK JASKOLKA, A MINOR BY ANDREW JASKOLKA, HIS PARENT AND NATURAL GUARDIAN, IN HIS OWN RIGHT AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHER SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN IN BENSALEM TOWNSHIP, APPELLANTS,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AND THE TREASURER OF PENNSYLVANIA, AND THE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court entered April 22, 1987 at No. 1580 C.D. 1984. 105 Pa. Commw 388, Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Larsen and Papadakos, JJ., file dissenting opinions.

Author: Mcdermott

[ 518 Pa. Page 582]

OPINION

This case comes to us on direct appeal from the order of the Commonwealth Court entering summary judgment in favor of appellees, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Treasurer of Pennsylvania, and the Secretary of Education of Pennsylvania. Appellants are the Bensalem Township School District, Robert Dewey, and Andrew Jaskola as guardian of Mark Jaskola, 105 Pa. Commw. 388, 524 A.2d 1027 (1987). Mr. Dewey claims standing as a taxpayer, while Mr. Jaskola claims standing on behalf of his minor son who is a student in the Bensalem school.

This case was initiated by appellants, who filed for declaratory and equitable relief seeking to have the statutory scheme for the funding of Commonwealth public schools declared unconstitutional. Appellants challenged the statute as being irrational and arbitrary on its face, and violative of equal protection as applied.

The action was filed in 1984. Thereafter, it languished in the Commonwealth Court due solely to appellants' inactivity

[ 518 Pa. Page 583]

    in prosecuting the claim.*fn1 Eventually, however, appellants filed a motion for summary judgment.

This motion asserted that the statute was unconstitutional on its face. There were no supporting affidavits or depositions filed with the motion, except for an affidavit from appellants' counsel in which he made various allegations of proof but offered no concrete support.

Respondents resisted appellants' motion for summary judgment, but did not themselves move for summary judgment. The Commonwealth Court denied appellants' motion, and then entered summary judgment in favor of respondents.

Appellants have now filed a direct appeal to this Court in which they raise two issues: the first challenges the lower courts' denial of the motion for summary judgment; and the second challenges the entry of summary judgment in favor of a non-moving party. For present purposes we need only address appellants' second issue.

Summary judgment proceedings are governed by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1035, which provides:

Rule 1035. Motion for Summary Judgment

(a) After the pleadings are closed, but within such time as not to delay trial, any party may move for summary judgment on the pleadings and any depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file and supporting affidavits.

Note: See Definition Rule 76 for definition of ...


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