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The defendant port authority's alleged negligent placement of a bus wheelchair ramp did not fall within the vehicle exception to sovereign immunity because neither the ramp nor the bus was moving at the time of plaintiff's alleged injury.

January 1, 2010
Manella v. Port Authority of Allegheny County, 982 A.2d 130 (Pa. Commw. Oct. 6, 2009)

The defendant Port Authority's alleged negligent placement of a bus wheelchair ramp did not fall within the vehicle exception to sovereign immunity because neither the ramp nor the bus was moving at the time of the plaintiff's alleged injury. The plaintiff filed this action against the Port Authority of Allegheny County, alleging that a Port Authority bus driver negligently set out a bus wheelchair ramp unevenly with the ground without properly securing it, causing the plaintiff to fall out of his wheelchair and suffer serious injuries. The Commonwealth Court would not apply the vehicle liability exception in cases not involving a moving vehicle. The act of exiting a bus does not involve the "operation" of a bus for purposes of the vehicle liability exception to sovereign immunity. The court explainted that "[w]hile it may be true that the [bus] ramp's motion would begin again, as would the bus, neither the bus nor the ramp was moving at the time of [plaintiff's] injury[.]"

Case Law Alert - 1st Qtr 2010

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