• Metro. Edison Co. v. City of Reading
  • January 6, 2016 | Author: Shayne Joseph McGrady
  • Law Firm: Thomas, Thomas & Hafer LLP - Wilkes-Barre Office
  • Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court

    No. 2188 CD 2014

    Decided: October 15, 2015

    Local agency immune from liability where its employees, rather than the facility itself, caused an unstable condition of the ground.

    Background


    During excavations, City of Reading encountered an electrical duct bank owned by Metropolitan Edison. After notification, Met-Ed sent a contractor to perform repairs and excavation continued. Once again, Reading contacted Met-Ed to advise of further erosion; however, Met-Ed did not make additional repairs. And, excavation continued leading to the collapse of the duct bank. In response, Met-Ed sent the same contractor to the site to complete extensive repairs, which included the removal of the collapsed portion and the installation of a new duct bank.

    Met-Ed sued alleging Reading’s negligence caused the collapse. Reading moved for summary judgment, asserting immunity from liability pursuant to the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act under Section 8541. The Trial Court denied Reading’s motion and proceeded with a bench trial where it found Reading was not immune from liability and entered a judgment for Met-Ed for $53,000.

    Holding

    Commonwealth Court held Reading immune from liability because the dangerous condition resulted from the conduct of the Reading employees, rather than the unstable condition of the soil located underneath Met-Ed’s duct bank. Pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S. § 8542(b)(5), immunity will be excepted only when it is proven the injury was caused by a condition of the property itself, which has its origin or source in the property. Where the conduct of the employee of the local agency is the cause of injury, the local agency will be immune from liability.