Gramlich v. Lower Southampton Twp., (Pa. Cmwlth. 2003), 838 A.2d 843 (2002)
Note: Appeal Denied
The Commonwealth Court determined that two exceptions to government immunity, streets exception and real property exception, did not apply, and consequently Lower Southampton Township had governmental immunity with regards to any injuries Gramlich might have sustained.
The court explained that generally, a local agency is not liable for any damages caused by any act of the local agency or its employees. One exception to this principal is known as the streets exception. Under the streets exception, a party must show, first, that the area where the loss occurred is considered a “street” owned by a local agency. In the present case, a drainage hole was located next to the street, but not on the paved portion of the agency’s right-of-way. The drainage hole was located within the agency’s right-of-way, however for the purposes of government immunity, even though the Township has a larger right-of-way than the paved “cartway,” it has assumed responsibility only for the paved portion of the street. The court concluded that the drainage hole was not subject to the street exception in the governmental immunity provision.
The court also concluded that the Township did not have total control over the real property where the drainage ditch was located, and therefore, did not possess it. Consequently, the real property exception to governmental immunity did not apply.
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