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UTICA MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (11/20/89)

decided: November 20, 1989.

UTICA MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, A NEW YORK CORPORATION, PETITIONER,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY, BUREAU OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION, RESPONDENT



COMPLAINT IN ACTION FOR DECLARATORY JUDGMENT (WITH NOTICE TO PLEAD).

COUNSEL

Stacey F. Vernallis, with him, William Pietragallo, II, and Scott T. Redman, Pietragallo, Bosick & Gordon, Pittsburgh, for petitioner.

Janice L. Anderson, Deputy Atty. Gen., with her, Clavin R. Koons, Sr. Deputy Atty. Gen., John G. Knorr, III, Chief Deputy Atty. Gen., Chief of Litigation Section, and Ernest D. Preate, Jr., Atty. Gen., for respondent.

Craig and Doyle, JJ., and Narick, Senior Judge.

Author: Craig

[ 129 Pa. Commw. Page 639]

The facts which gave rise to this dispute involved a complaint by which Utica Mutual Insurance Company sought a declaratory judgment in this court's original jurisdiction, to hold that Utica's obligation under a surety bond with Mesta Machine Company was limited to $750,000.00, as approved in a letter from the Director of the Bureau of Worker's Compensation that authorized a reduction of the surety bond from the original amount of $2,000,000.00.

The parties engaged in discovery in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure, which Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure 106 makes applicable to actions brought in our original jurisdiction. A single-judge non-jury trial was conducted on May 3, 1989; on May 16, the presiding judge entered an order that granted the relief Utica sought in its declaratory judgment action.

On May 30, 1989 the bureau filed an "Application for Reargument" seeking relief from the May 16 order. Utica filed a motion to quash the bureau's application for reargument, claiming that the bureau should have filed post-trial motions in accordance with Pa.R.C.P. No. 227.1 instead of an application for reargument, and that the bureau's application was untimely if treated as a post-trial motion. A motions judge of this court denied Utica's motion, granted the bureau's request, and directed that the case be listed for argument before a panel of judges.

Utica challenges that decision, claiming that the judge erred in allowing the bureau to proceed under the rules applicable to appellate reargument, and that the judge

[ 129 Pa. Commw. Page 640]

    should have granted Utica's motion to quash the bureau's application as improper and untimely.

If the Rules of Appellate Procedure allow a party to file an application for reargument from a decision by a single judge acting in this court's original jurisdiction, a panel of this court properly could consider the merits of the bureau's application for reargument. If the Rules of Civil Procedure are applicable, we cannot address the merits of the case because the bureau did not file its post-trial motions within ten days of the judge's decision, as required by Pa.R.C.P. No. 227.1.

Both parties agree that Utica's action for declaratory judgment was within this court's original jurisdiction. Pa.R.A.P. 106 provides the ...


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