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PATRICIA A. BRADLEY v. PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE COMMISSION AND DENISE UCCI (11/10/88)

decided: November 10, 1988.

PATRICIA A. BRADLEY, APPELLANT
v.
PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE COMMISSION AND DENISE UCCI, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, in the case of Patricia A. Bradley v. Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and Denise Ucci, March Term, No. 5348-1986.

COUNSEL

Lee Albert, with him, Bernard M. Gross, and Ilissa Zimmerman, Gross, Sklar & Metzger, P.C., for appellant.

Peter J. Weber, with him, Lowell A. Reed, Jr., and Gerhard P. Dietrich, Rawle & Henderson, for appellees.

Judge Smith, and Senior Judges Kalish and Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Narick. Judge MacPhail did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Narick

[ 121 Pa. Commw. Page 52]

Patricia A. Bradley (Appellant) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County (trial court) which granted a demurrer in favor of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (Commission) and dismissed Appellant's complaint on the basis that the Commission was immune from suit pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S. § 8521 (sovereign immunity). We affirm.

On March 26, 1986, Appellant filed a complaint in trespass against the Commission for injuries she allegedly sustained as a passenger in a motor vehicle which was struck by a deer on the turnpike on October 27, 1985. On April 23, 1986, the Commission filed preliminary objections raising two issues: 1) whether venue was proper in Philadelphia,*fn1 and 2) whether a demurrer to

[ 121 Pa. Commw. Page 53]

    the complaint should be sustained on the basis of sovereign immunity. The trial court determined that the Commission was entitled to immunity and that Appellant's claim did not fall within the eight exceptions to immunity under 42 Pa. C.S. § 8522(b).*fn2 On appeal, Appellant argues that the Commission is an independent corporation excluded from the protection of sovereign immunity and that a cause of action in negligence lies against the Commission for a dangerous condition on the highway created by the entry of animals. In the alternative, Appellant argues that the Commission created and maintained a dangerous condition as contemplated by the exceptions to the immunity statute. We disagree.

In an appeal from an order sustaining preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer, we are constrained to examine only the well-pleaded facts of the complaint; a demurrer admits those facts and any inferences reasonably deducible therefrom. Easton Area Joint Sewer Authority v. Bushkill -- Lower Lehigh Joint Sewer Authority, 71 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 553, 455 A.2d 286 (1983).

Appellant argues firstly that the Commission is a corporation separate and apart from the Commonwealth and not immune from suit in tort. In particular, Appellant relies on the case of Specter v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, 462 Pa. 474, 341 A.2d 481 (1975). In Specter, Irving and Marie Specter, Appellants, were injured in a collision on the turnpike caused by a turnpike employee's negligent operation of a turnpike-owned vehicle. The Court in Specter reviewed prior case law and concluded that

[ 121 Pa. Commw. Page 54]

    the Turnpike Commission was separate and apart from the Commonwealth and could not ...


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