Does the State Enjoy Sovereign Immunity from Claims Based on Negligence or Nuisance ?
In Pastore v. State System of Higher Education, 152 Pa. Commw. 111, 618 A.2d 1118, 1123 (1992), the owners of a residential development alleged an injury to them resulting from water flowing from an owner of higher land, the State System of Higher Education.
The owners filed a complaint in this Court asserting various claims under statutory provisions and also a claim in "negligence or nuisance."
The Court noted that, under Section 761 of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa. C.S. 761, although the Court generally has original jurisdiction over claims against Commonwealth parties, Section 761 excludes certain actions, among which are "actions or proceedings conducted pursuant to Chapter 85" and "actions in the nature of trespass as to which the Commonwealth government formally enjoyed sovereign or other immunity and ... or proceedings in the nature of assumpsit relating to such actions or proceedings in the nature of trespass."
The Court opined that the claim "based on negligence clearly falls with Chapter 85 of the Judicial Code and is also an action in the nature of trespass as to which the Commonwealth formerly enjoyed sovereign immunity," id., thus foreclosing the power of the Court to try a negligence or nuisance action.