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MARION SCHAEFFER v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/18/88)

decided: October 18, 1988.

MARION SCHAEFFER, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation v. Marion Schaeffer, No. 86-13054.

COUNSEL

Lawrence Sager, Sager & Sager Associates, for appellant.

No appearance for appellee.

Judges Barry and Smith, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Smith. This decision was reached prior to the resignation of Judge MacPhail.

Author: Smith

[ 120 Pa. Commw. Page 462]

Appellant, Marion Schaeffer, appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County affirming the suspension of her operating privileges by the Department of Transportation (DOT) pursuant to Section 1742 of the Vehicle Code (Code).*fn1 The suspension

[ 120 Pa. Commw. Page 463]

    resulted from Appellant's failure to repay to Travelers Insurance Company (Travelers) sums paid for basic loss benefits as required by Section 501 of the Pennsylvania No-Fault Motor Vehicle Act (Act).*fn2 The trial court is reversed.

After hearing on Appellant's appeal of the license suspension, the trial court found that David Schaeffer, Appellant's son, was involved in an accident on November 18, 1983 in an uninsured vehicle registered to Appellant. The trial court further found that on February 6, 1984, David Schaeffer applied to the Pennsylvania Assigned Claims Plan (PACP) under the Act, 40 Pa. C.S. ยง 1009.108, for basic loss benefits; that Travelers, designated by PACP as obligor to pay the basic loss benefits, reimbursed David Schaeffer $22,271.82; that Travelers sought repayment from Appellant as owner of the uninsured vehicle; and that Appellant failed to respond to Travelers' request for repayment. Consequently, DOT suspended Appellant's license. The trial court affirmed the suspension and Appellant appealed to this Court.*fn3

[ 120 Pa. Commw. Page 464]

Appellant argues initially that DOT failed to prove the necessary elements of Section 501 during trial to sustain the license suspension. Appellant objected to the admissibility of DOT's evidence as hearsay which the trial court overruled. DOT's case was presented solely by certified documentary evidence consisting of a letter dated November 4, 1985 from Travelers to Appellant demanding repayment of benefits paid by Travelers; application for benefits filed by David Schaeffer; letter dated July 15, 1986 from Travelers to DOT requesting suspension of Appellant's license; and DOT's license suspension notice to Appellant dated July 9, 1987. Commonwealth Exhibit C-1. Appellant did not present testimony, choosing instead to stipulate through counsel that if Appellant testified, she would state that David Schaeffer drove the subject vehicle without Appellant's consent; that she had not been sued by Travelers; and that no judgment existed in favor of Travelers for the sum paid. N.T., pp. 7-8.

Appellant contends that the documentary evidence offered by DOT was hearsay and therefore inadmissible to establish any fact except what action was taken by DOT. Furthermore, since the records were not admissible under the business records exception to the hearsay rule, the trial court erred in relying upon the documents to find that DOT sustained its burden. Under principles established by this Court in license suspension cases, however, DOT may prove its case by submission of certified records ...


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