Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the cases of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Lawrence Jude McNeilis, No. 491 of 1987, dated May 6, 1987; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Susan Sauers, No. 173 of 1987, dated May 21, 1987; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Gerald Francis Krummert, No. 619 of 1987, dated May 13, 1987 and No. 1396 of 1987, dated September 9, 1987; and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Larry K. Schamus, No. 753 of 1987, dated May 27, 1987.
Joel E. Hausman, Apple and Apple, P.C., for appellant, Lawrence Jude McNeilis.
Charles M. Schwartz, for appellant, Susan Sauers.
James R. Mall, with him, John F. Hooper, Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, for appellant, Gerald Francis Krummert.
Patrick J. Thomassey, for appellant, Larry K. Schamus.
Melissa K. Dively, Assistant Counsel, with her, Christopher J. Clements, Assistant Counsel, Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Chief Counsel, and John L. Heaton, Chief Counsel, for appellee, Department of Transportation.
Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 119 Pa. Commw. Page 274]
In these five Vehicle Code appeals, which have been submitted on briefs and consolidated for consideration because they turn upon a common procedural issue, the key question is:
In perfecting an appeal from a motor vehicle operator's license suspension or revocation imposed by the Department of Transportation, what is the proper mode of service of the appeal upon the department in order to give prompt notice of the proceeding and to avoid undue delay which might result in abuse of the automatic supersedeas afforded by the statute?
In all five of these cases, the procedural history is similar. On account of various Vehicle Code violations, the department had issued notices of suspension of operator's license to the respective four motorists. In accordance with section 1550(a) of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 1550(a), each motorist filed an appeal with the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas in timely fashion, that is, within thirty days from the date of mailing of the suspension notice.
[ 119 Pa. Commw. Page 275]
In the McNeilis case, No. 1238 C.D. 1987 in this court, and the Sauers case, No. 1332 C.D. 1987, counsel acknowledge that they failed to serve any notice or copy of the appeal upon the department. In the Schamus case, No. 1386 C.D. 1987, and the Krummert cases, Nos. 1266 C.D. 1987 and 2271 C.D. 1987, counsel served a notice and copy of the appeal upon the department by first class mail; although counsel in those cases filed their own certificates of service, the department denied receipt of any service, and the appellants' counsel did not produce any certified mail return receipt ...