Appellants, Michael and Rose Amabile, appeal from orders granting summary judgment in favor of defendant-appellees. Appellants contend that the court below erred in granting the motions for summary judgment under Rule 1035 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure
On March 10, 1971, plaintiff-appellant, Michael Amabile had his car washed at the Auto Kleen Car Wash in Philadelphia, and then parked it in the vacuum area, provided by appellee, Auto Kleen, for the use of its patrons. As he was leaning over the trunk drying his back window and rear section of his car, he was struck by another automobile driven by Shirley Jane Messick, an additional defendant, causing injuries which form the damages in the instant action. Immediately preceding the accident Ms. Messick had also driven her automobile through the car wash.
On June 25, 1971 the Amabiles filed suit only against Ms. Messick; but, on February 20, 1973, appellants filed a second action against appellees which forms the basis of the instant appeal. The defendants in this action, now the appellees, are Auto Kleen Car Wash; Edwin B. McCoy, owner and operator of Auto Kleen Car Wash; Edward M. Kaplan, Ann Kaplan, Erwin Adler and Belle Adler, owners of real estate on which the car wash was built; and J.D. Cathcart, designer of Auto Kleen Car Wash and the vendor of equipment installed therein. In their complaint, appellants pleaded causes of action in assumpsit, trespass and strict liability in tort against appellee-McCoy trading as Auto Kleen while the other appellees, Edward M. Kaplan, Ann Kaplan, Erwin
Appellants' complaint alleged the above facts and further alleged that appellee-Auto Kleen failed to provide appellant with a safe place to wash his motor vehicle, exposed appellant to danger about which it knew or should have known, failed to take adequate precautions for appellant's safety, and misrepresented the safety and effectiveness of its establishment. As to appellees Edward M. Kaplan, Ann Kaplan, Erwin Adler and Belle Adler, appellant alleged that these appellees, as the owners of the real estate on which the car wash was built, knew or should have known that the operation and construction of the car wash was hazardous to patrons, so that they permitted the car wash to be designed, constructed and operated in a careless manner without due care to the safety of appellant. As to appellee, J.D. Cathcart, appellant alleged that, as the designer of Auto Kleen Car Wash and the vendor of equipment installed therein, Cathcart knew or should have known that the design and operation of the car wash was hazardous to patrons. Appellees filed answers denying all material allegations in the complaint.
At the close of the pleadings, pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 1035, Auto Kleen, its owner, and the owners of the real estate on which it is located, moved for summary judgment and supported the motion with depositions of Shirley Jane Messick, Edwin B. McCoy, the owner and operator of Auto Kleen Car Wash, and police officer Joseph Lemerise.
Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1035(b) provides that summary judgment is to be rendered only if "the
In the instant case, Auto Kleen, et al., supported their motion for summary judgment with depositions. Once a motion for summary judgment is made in this manner, the non-moving party may not rely on the controverted allegations of the pleadings. Phaff v. Gerner, 451 Pa. 146, 303 A.2d 826 (1973). Pa.R.C.P. 1035(d) provides, in pertinent part, that:
Therefore, if the non-moving party does not oppose a properly supported motion for summary judgment with affidavits, depositions, or the like, he may not rely upon his
The rationale for requiring affidavits in opposition to a motion for summary judgment can be better understood after examining the reasons for permitting such a motion. Pa.R.C.P. 1035(d) was taken verbatim from the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 56(c), and an examination of the Advisory Committee comments is helpful in understanding the reasoning behind the Rule:
Therefore, although the pleadings may sufficiently state a genuine issue of material fact, a motion for summary judgment "was designed to remedy the situation where there is a sufficiently pleaded but factually improper claim or answer.. . ." Ritmanich v. Jonel Enterprises, Inc., 219 Pa.Super. 198, 203, 280 A.2d 570, 571 (1971).
However, merely because a party does not oppose by affidavit, deposition or the like, a factually supplemented
Even though the facts presented in depositions in support of a motion for summary judgment must be taken as true when no opposing affidavits, depositions or the like are filed, granting a defendant's motion for summary judgment is never appropriate when depositions filed in support of such motion do not either 1) refute a material allegation in plaintiff's complaint, thus destroying the prima facie case or 2) present a complete defense to the action. As our Supreme Court noted in Marchese v. Marchese, 457 Pa. 625, 630, 326 A.2d 321, 323 (1974):
In the case at bar, the motion for summary judgment was supported by three depositions. However, we conclude that the depositions filed do not controvert the allegation, contained in appellant's pleadings that the vacuum machines were negligently placed in an area which exposed appellant to unreasonable danger. The relevant deposition testimony supporting appellee's argument that the placement of the vacuum pumps was not negligent consisted solely of appellee-McCoy's statement that over 200,000 cars had used the car wash without an accident. Although this is some evidence that the vacuum pumps were not negligently placed, it does not preclude a finding that they were. In dismissing a similar argument our Supreme Court noted, in Cummings v. Nazareth Borough, 427 Pa. 14, 19-20, 233 A.2d 874, 878 (1967):
Therefore, even though we must accept all statements of fact in the depositions as true, because no contrary depositions or affidavits were filed by appellants, this statement does not refute the material allegation that the vacuum pumps were negligently placed in an area which exposed appellant to unreasonable danger.
Next, appellees, Auto Kleen, et al., argue that even if the placement of the vacuum pumps was negligent, the proximate cause of the accident was the failure of Ms. Messick's brakes.
As the Court concluded in Flickinger:
On March 19, 1976, the lower court entered an order granting appellee, J.D. Cathcart's motion for summary judgment. Appellee-Cathcart supported his motion for summary judgment with his own deposition. In his deposition Cathcart stated that at no time did he, personally, rather than in his capacity as agent for Clayton Equipment Company, have anything to do with the planning, layout or sale of equipment to the car wash. Therefore, the gist or gravamen of Cathcart's contention is that, even if he were the designer of Auto Kleen Car Wash, the existence of the corporate entity insulates him from liability. Price Bar, Inc. Liquor License Case, 203 Pa.Super. 481, 201 A.2d 221 (1964). With this contention we cannot agree. The law of Pennsylvania has long recognized that personal liability can be found against a corporate officer who actually participates in the wrongful, injury-producing act. Chester-Cambridge Bank & Trust Co. v. Rhodes, 346 Pa. 427, 31 A.2d 128 (1943). Cathcart testified in his deposition that he took an active part in the selling of the equipment to Auto Kleen Car Wash, and that his relation to the car wash was as an employee of Clayton. It is immaterial that Cathcart, at all times, was acting in his capacity as an agent of Clayton Equipment Company if, in fact, it was Cathcart's negligent design which contributed to appellant's injury. Appellants' theory of liability against Cathcart is not vicariously or derivatively drawn from Cathcart's relationship with Clayton, but rather it is predicated on Cathcart's personal involvement, albeit as an agent for Clayton in the negligent design and construction of the car wash. Therefore, summary judgment is only appropriate if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file show that
After careful consideration of the depositions filed in the instant appeal, we conclude that the genuine issues of material fact still exist; that is, whether appellee was involved in the design of the car wash and whether the car wash was designed so as to expose appellant to unreasonable danger.
Therefore, the order of the lower court is reversed as to all appellees and we remand for further proceedings.
WATKINS, President Judge, and PRICE, J., concur in the result.
VAN der VOORT, J., dissents.
"The only question of fact in this case was whether or not the brakes were working on the car of Shirley Jane Messick and if not, why not. . . .
"The Court failed to see any legal responsibility on the part of the Defendants. . . ."