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JOHN J. GRULA v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (02/16/89)

decided: February 16, 1989.

JOHN J. GRULA, JR., AND MARGARET GRULA, ADMINISTRATORS OF THE ESTATE OF JOHN J. GRULA, III, DECEASED, AND JOHN J. GRULA, JR. AND MARGARET GRULA, IN THEIR OWN RIGHT, APPELLANTS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BOROUGH OF LARKSVILLE ET AL., APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, in the case of John J. Grula, Jr. and Margaret Grula, Administrators of the Estate of John J. Grula, III, deceased, and John J. Grula, Jr., and Margaret Grula, in their own right v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Borough of Larksville, The Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania, and UGI Corp. v. The Borough of Larksville Sewer Authority et al., No. 1565-C of 1984.

COUNSEL

John A. Bednarz, Jr., for appellants.

Brian C. Corcoran, Hourigan, Kluger, Spohrer & Quinn, P.C., for appellee, Borough of Larksville.

Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.

Author: Palladino

[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 459]

John J. Grula, Jr. and Margaret Grula (Appellants) appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County granting the Borough of Larksville's

[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 460]

(Borough) motion for summary judgment and dismissing Appellants' action against the Borough. We affirm.

John J. Grula, III (Grula), Appellants' son, died from injuries he suffered when the motor vehicle he was driving left East Main Street and struck two utility poles. Appellants allege that Grula's automobile left the road as a result of traveling through a pool of water covering the roadway. East Main Street is a Commonwealth highway*fn1 located in the Borough. One of the two utility poles was the property of Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania (Bell); the other was the property of UGI Corporation (UGI). Appellants filed wrongful death and survival actions against the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT), the Borough, Bell and UGI.*fn2 In this case, we are concerned only with the action as it pertains to the Borough.

Appellants alleged that Grula's death "was caused by and was the direct result of the negligence" of the Borough. Appellants made 23 specific allegations of fact describing the Borough's negligence. These include allegations that the Borough failed to properly and adequately inspect, maintain and repair East Main Street and/or its drainage system. Additionally, Appellants averred that the Borough knew of the accumulated water and failed to notify DOT, warn motorists and control traffic in the area.

The Borough in its answer and new matter to Appellants' complaint, asserted that (1) because East Main Street was a Commonwealth highway, it owed no legal duty to Grula; and (2) it was immune from suit pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S. §§ 8541-8564. After a substantial amount of discovery, the Borough moved for summary

[ 123 Pa. Commw. Page 461]

    judgment on the bases that it owed Grula no duty and that governmental immunity ...


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