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Alderwoods (Pa.), Inc. v. Duquesne Light Co.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

December 15, 2014

ALDERWOODS (PENNSYLVANIA), INC., A WHOLLY OWNED SUBSIDIARY OF SERVICE CORPORATION INTERNATIONAL, T/A BURTON L. HIRSCH FUNERAL HOME, Appellee
v.
DUQUESNE LIGHT COMPANY, Appellant

Argued October 15, 2013

As Amended December 14, 2014.

Page 28

Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court entered July 27, 2012 at No. 1967 WDA 2010, reversing the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County entered December 13, 2010 at No. GD-09-14720 and remanding. Appeal allowed May 14, 2013 at 483 WAL 2012. Trial Court Judge: Paul F. Lutty, Jr., Christine Donohue, Robert E. Colville, JJ.

For Duquesne Light Company, APPELLANT: Erin Megan Beckner, Esq., Tucker Arensberg, P.C.; Gary P. Hunt, Esq., Tucker Arensberg, P.C.; Richard B. Tucker III, Esq., Tucker Arensberg, P.C.; Bradley S. Tupi, Esq., Tucker Arensberg, P.C.

For Energy Association of Pennsylvania, APPELLANT AMICUS CURIAE: Robert C. Heim, Esq., Dechert LLP; Elisa Talora Wiygul, Esq., Dechert LLP

For Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, APPELLANT AMICUS CURIAE: Bohdan R. Pankiw, Esq.; Kenneth Riley Stark II, Esq., PA Public Utility Commission; Patricia Timrnerman Wiedt, Esq.; Robert Frank Young, Esq.

For Alderwoods (Pennsylvania), Inc., APPELLEE: Alan J. Charkey, Esq., White and Williams, L.L.P.; Peter T. Parashes, Esq. White and Williams, L.L.P.

BEFORE: MR. JUSTICE SAYLOR. CASTILLE, C.J., SAYLOR, EAKIN, BAER, TODD, McCAFFERY, STEVENS, JJ. Former Justice McCaffery did not participate in the decision of this case. Mr. Chief Justice Castille and Messrs. Justice Baer and Stevens join the opinion. Mr. Justice Eakin files a dissenting opinion. Madame Justice Todd files a dissenting opinion.

OPINION

Page 29

MR. SAYLOR, JUSTICE

The main and controlling issue accepted for review, as framed by the appellant, is " [w]hether the Superior Court erred in imposing upon electric utilities a burdensome and unprecedented duty to enter customers' premises and inspect customers' electrical facilities before restoring power after an outage?" Alderwoods (Pa.), Inc. v. Duquesne Light Co., 620 Pa. 214, 66 A.3d 763 (2013) (per curiam). It is material to bear in mind from the outset, however, that the appellant's portrayal of the issues fails to adequately address the Superior Court's formulation of electric-company duties, in the alternative, " to inspect, or at a minimum, to warn a customer, under the facts alleged[.]" Alderwoods (Pa.), Inc. v. Duquesne Light Co., 2012 PA Super 153, 52 A.3d 347, 355 (Pa. Super. 2012) (emphasis adjusted)).

I. Background

Appellant, Duquesne Light Company (" Duquesne Light" or " Duquesne" ), is a Pennsylvania public utility engaged in the business of transmitting and distributing electric power in the city of Pittsburgh. Appellee, Alderwoods (Pennsylvania), Inc., trading as Burton L. Hirsch Funeral Home (" Hirsch" ), conducted business at 2704 Murray Avenue in Pittsburgh. ...


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