Can You Sue the Department of Transportation for An Injury After Getting Off a Bus ?

In Glover v. SEPTA,794 A.2d 410 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2002), the plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that she sustained injuries after disembarking from a bus on Allegheny Avenue in Philadelphia. The caption of the complaint named the "Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office," the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and the City of Philadelphia as defendants. Id. at 411. the Glover complaint averred that the "Commonwealth, Department of Transportation (hereinafter referred to as defendant DOT)" was a defendant. Id. at 412 n.2. The Attorney General answered by stating that "DOT" was not a party. The Commonwealth filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings on grounds of sovereign immunity. It argued that one reference to "DOT" in the body of the complaint did not make the Department of Transportation a party. The trial court granted the Commonwealth's motion. Relying upon long-standing precedent that a "mere reference" in a complaint to a third party does not make that third party a defendant, Spencer, 590 A.2d at 1346, the Court affirmed. The Court also noted that the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure required that the caption of the complaint must name all the parties.