Appealed From No. 4006 January Term, 1996. Common Pleas Court of the County of Philadelphia. Judge SHEPPARD, JR.
Before: Honorable Jim Flaherty, Judge, Honorable Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter, Judge, Honorable Charles A. Lord, Senior Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lord
OPINION BY SENIOR JUDGE LORD
Mary Ann Abella appeals a Philadelphia County Common Pleas Court order granting a motion to dismiss her claims against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the General State Authority (collectively, the Commonwealth).
This case began when Abella filed a complaint seeking to hold the Commonwealth and the City of Philadelphia (City) liable for injuries she sustained on February 1, 1994. Abella alleged that she slipped and fell on hills and ridges of ice and snow while leaving the State Office Building, located in the City at the southwest corner of Broad and Spring Garden Streets. She averred, inter alia, that the site of the accident was possessed, controlled and maintained by the Commonwealth, which was negligent in causing, permitting or allowing hills and ridges of ice, snow and water to accumulate and remain on the walkway adjacent to the building; in failing to warn of defects; and in failing to maintain, repair and keep the sidewalk free of defects.
The trial court granted the City's preliminary objections and dismissed the City from the case. The court subsequently sustained the Commonwealth's motion to dismiss based on the inapplicability of the real estate exception to the Commonwealth's sovereign immunity. See Section 8522 (b)(4) of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa. C.S. '8522(b)(4). Abella now appeals the latter decision to this Court.
The sole issue presented to us is whether the trial court erred in holding that the real estate exception to the Commonwealth's sovereign immunity is inapplicable to this case.
Although we think that the most recent case law in this area reveals that Abella is not frivolous in contending that the real estate exception permits her claim, we conclude, for the reasons set forth below, that the trial court's decision is properly affirmed.
Preliminary, there is no dispute that the Commonwealth has sovereign immunity from liability here unless the following real estate exception applies:
(b) Acts which may impose liability.-The following acts by a Commonwealth party may result in the imposition of liability on the Commonwealth and the defense of sovereign immunity shall not be raised to claims for damages caused by:
(4) Commonwealth real estate, highways and sidewalks.-A dangerous condition of Commonwealth agency ...