sovereign immunity. In a number of instances, HSCA expressly preserves the Commonwealth's sovereign immunity. These statutory provisions make no sense absent a general waiver of sovereign immunity.
For instance, an owner under the statute is exempt from liability if "the owner is a government entity which acquired the site by escheat, through any other involuntary transfer or acquisition or through the exercise of eminent domain authority by purchase or condemnation." 35 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6020.701(b)(1)(vi)(B). Furthermore, the definition of owner or operator exempts "a unit of State . . . government which acquired ownership or control involuntarily through bankruptcy, tax delinquency, abandonment or other circumstances in which the government involuntarily acquires title by virtue of its function as sovereign." 35 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6020.103.
HSCA also specifically exempts Commonwealth employees from liability. It states:
Persons employed by the Commonwealth shall not be held liable for a release of a hazardous substance or contaminant, or any other damages incurred, as a result of actions or omissions occurring when acting in their official capacity.
35 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6020.702(d). HSCA also provides that:
no State agency or political subdivision shall be liable under this act for costs or damages as a result of actions taken by the State agency or political subdivision in response to a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance generated by or from a site.
35 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6020.703(c).
Finally, HSCA provides as follows:
§ 6020.511 Acquisition of real property
(a) General rule.-- The department [DER] may acquire, by purchase, lease, condemnation, donation or otherwise, real property or an interest in real property that the department, in its discretion, determines is needed to conduct a response action under this act. The department has no duty to acquire any interest in real property under this act.
(b) Sovereign immunity.-- The Commonwealth shall not be liable under this act as a result of acquiring an interest in real estate under this section, nor shall anything in this act be construed as a waiver of sovereign immunity or a waiver under 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 8522 (relating to exceptions to sovereign immunity).
35 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6020.511 (footnote added).
The above provisions of HSCA are nonsensical absent a general waiver of sovereign immunity by the General Assembly. Under Pennsylvania rules of statutory construction, "every statute shall be construed, if possible, to give effect to all its provisions." 1 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 1921 (Supp. 1993).
For the reasons explained above, the court denies SEPTA's motion for partial summary judgment. An appropriate order follows.
AND NOW, this 5th day of August 1993, upon consideration of SEPTA's motion for partial summary judgment and Reading's response thereto, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT the motion is DENIED.
William H. Yohn, Jr., Judge