Is the City Liable for Negligent Maintenance of a Bleacher Which Collapsed ?
In Blocker v. City of Philadelphia, 563 Pa. 559, 763 A.2d 373 (2000), the Supreme Court held that the real estate exception to immunity did not apply to a city for its negligent maintenance of a bleacher.
There, a citizen was injured when a bleacher that she was sitting on collapsed at a city concert facility.
The trial court granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of the City based on its immunity under the Tort Claims Act, and this Court reversed. Id. at 561-62, 763 A.2d at 374.
The Court held that there was a question as to whether the intent of the City was to consider the bleacher part of the realty.
However, the Supreme Court reversed and held that consideration of the intention of an owner regarding whether a chattel has been permanently placed on real property is only relevant where the chattel has, in fact, been affixed to the realty. Id. at 562-63, 763 A.2d at 375.
Because the Supreme Court held that the evidence was clear that the bleacher was not attached to the ground, the intent of the City was irrelevant; absent an attachment to realty, a chattel remains personalty. Id. at 563, 763 A.2d at 375-76.
Accordingly, the Supreme Court held that because it was undisputed that the bleacher, which caused the injury, was personalty, any negligent maintenance of it did not fall within the real property exception to immunity.