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JORGE ARMANDO SOCARRAS v. CITY PHILADELPHIA (01/27/89)

decided: January 27, 1989.

JORGE ARMANDO SOCARRAS, APPELLANT
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, JO ANNE COLEMAN, ROBERT KOLLMER AND PENNINGTON SALES AND SERVICE, CO., APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, in the case of Jorge Armando Socarras v. City of Philadelphia, et al., No. 2663 July Term, 1982.

COUNSEL

Donald E. Matusow, with him, Martina Jo Walsh, Litvin, Blumberg, Matusow & Young, for appellant.

Alan C. Ostrow, Assistant City Solicitor, with him, Barbara R. Axelrod, Divisional Deputy in Charge of Appeals, Norma S. Weaver, Chief Deputy in Charge of Claims, and Seymour Kurland, City Solicitor, for appellees.

Judges Barry and McGinley, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges Craig, Barry, Colins, Palladino, McGinley and Smith. Opinion by Judge McGinley. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Palladino.

Author: Mcginley

[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 198]

Jorge Armando Socarras (Socarras) appeals from an order of the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia (trial court) granting the City of Philadelphia's (City) motion for

[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 199]

    summary judgment thereby dismissing Socarras's complaint against the City. We reverse.

The facts in this matter are not contested. On December 5, 1980, Socarras sustained severe injuries when a small Volkswagen automobile he was driving struck the rear of a pick-up truck which had broken down and had come to a stop in one of the middle lanes of northbound Interstate Route 95 in Philadelphia. The record indicates that just before the accident, the driver of the pick-up attempted to flag down a passing Philadelphia police officer who failed to stop. Socarras subsequently filed a complaint against the City among other defendants, alleging negligence on the part of the police officer for failing to stop and assist the disabled pick-up truck. After discovery was completed the City filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the police officer owed no duty to stop and assist the disabled truck. The trial court granted the City's motion and dismissed the complaint as to the City. Socarras appeals.

Our scope of review when considering a grant of summary judgment is clearly defined. A summary judgment can only be sustained where the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Melendez v. City of Philadelphia, 320 Pa. Superior Ct. 59, 466 A.2d 1060 (1983).

Socarras presents two issues for our review. First, Socarras contends that when a police officer has actual knowledge that a motorist is stranded in a dangerous position on a roadway a special relationship arises creating a duty to render necessary assistance. Second, Socarras contends the public duty doctrine, which states officers owe a general duty to the public, but not to

[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 200]

    specific individuals should be overruled as contrary to public policy as it shields municipalities from the negligent acts of their police ...


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