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JAMES H. SWEENEY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/28/88)

decided: October 28, 1988.

JAMES H. SWEENEY, JR., APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation v. James H. Sweeney, No. 87-11101.

COUNSEL

F. Michael Friedman, Arney, Pagano & Friedman, for appellant.

Donald H. Poorman, Assistant Counsel, with him, Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Chief Counsel, and John L. Heaton, Chief Counsel, for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Colins, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr. This decision was reached prior to the resignation of Judge MacPhail.

Author: Crumlish

[ 120 Pa. Commw. Page 592]

The Commonwealth Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing (Department) suspended James H. Sweeney's operator's license for failure to maintain financial responsibility. Section 1785 of the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (Act).*fn1 After de novo review, the Delaware County Common Pleas Court upheld the suspension. Sweeney appeals; we vacate and remand.*fn2

Sweeney was the operator of a vehicle involved in a reportable accident.*fn3 During the site investigation,

[ 120 Pa. Commw. Page 593]

Sweeney produced a driver's license and registration but no insurance information. The car was uninsured*fn4 and registered to J.J. Sweeney Company, a corporation whose president and sole shareholder was Sweeney. The registration indicated the corporation's address was the same as Sweeney's home address.

The trial court dismissed Sweeney's subsequent license suspension appeal, declaring him the vehicle's owner under Section 1785 of the Act.*fn5

Sweeney initially contends that as a shareholder of a corporation, he is not owner of its assets. Meitner v. State Real Estate Commission, 1 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 426, 275 A.2d 417 (1971). Thus, even as the sole shareholder, he contends he does not own or have property

[ 120 Pa. Commw. Page 594]

    rights in the uninsured vehicle. The Department counters that for purposes of Section 1785, the corporate entity was properly ...


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