763 A.2d 373 (Pa. 2000), Blocker v. City of Philadelphia

Citation:763 A.2d 373, 563 Pa. 559
Opinion Judge:The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mr. Chief Justice Flaherty
Party Name:Wendy BLOCKER, Appellee, v. CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, Appellant.
Case Date:December 20, 2000
Court:Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
 
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Page 373

763 A.2d 373 (Pa. 2000)

563 Pa. 559

Wendy BLOCKER, Appellee,

v.

CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, Appellant.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

December 20, 2000.

Argued Oct. 16, 2000.

Page 374

[563 Pa. 560] Alan C. Ostrow, Philadelphia, for City of Philadelphia.

Patricia J. Cooney, Philadelphia, for Wendy Blocker.

BEFORE: FLAHERTY, C.J., and ZAPPALA, CAPPY, CASTILLE, NIGRO, NEWMAN and SAYLOR, JJ.

OPINION

FLAHERTY, Chief Justice.

This is an appeal by allowance from an order of Commonwealth Court which reversed an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Philadelphia, appellant, in a negligence action filed by Wendy Blocker, appellee.

In 1994, Blocker attended a concert at a facility in the City of Philadelphia known as Robin Hood Dell East. During the concert, Blocker was injured when a bleacher that she was sitting on collapsed. 1 An action for damages ensued, based on a claim that the city negligently maintained the bleacher. The city responded that it was immune from suit under the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act (Tort Claims Act), 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 8541-8542. 2 The court of common pleas granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of the city. This reflected the court's determination that the defective bleacher was not a permanent fixture of the real estate, and that, as personalty, it did not fit within the immunity exception set forth in the Tort Claims Act for negligence in the care, custody, or control of real property. See 42 Pa.C.S. 8542(b)(3). 3

[563 Pa. 562] Commonwealth Court reversed. It held that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the bleacher was intended by the city to remain permanently on the Robin Hood Dell East grounds, and that, due to the existence of that disputed fact, summary judgment had been improperly entered. Commonwealth Court cited testimony from an arbitration hearing that was conducted before Blocker's claim was heard in the court of common pleas. That testimony was viewed as inherently conflicting as to whether the city intended the bleacher to remain in its location permanently or be moved to other locations around the city for various functions. Thus, the intent of the city regarding the permanence of the bleacher's location was regarded as a pivotal factor in determining whether the bleacher was part of the realty. No...

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