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Obtained Dismissal of Local Planning Commission Based Upon Application of the Pennsylvania Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act

Our client, a local planning commission, was sued for allegedly taking too long to approve a zoning permit for the establishment of a restaurant. The plaintiffs filed a single-count complaint, seeking damages for willful and intentional conduct on the part of the commission. Following the close of the pleadings, a motion for judgment on the pleadings was filed. The Lackawanna County judge granted the motion, finding the commission was entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the plaintiffs only asserted intentional conduct, not negligence. Under the plain language of the PSTCA, the commission is immune from tort liability for the intentional conduct of its employees. Alternatively, even if a negligence claim was pleaded, which it was not, failure to approve a zoning permit does not fall under one of the seven enumerated exceptions to governmental immunity.

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