Brooks v. Ewing Cole, Inc.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that an adverse decision on the government’s assertion of sovereign immunity constitutes a collateral order, immediately appealable as of right under Rule 313. This case arose out of personal injuries the plaintiff allegedly sustained when she walked into an unmarked glass wall while leaving the Family Court building in Philadelphia. She sued Ewing Cole, Inc., the City of Philadelphia, and the Family Court. The Family Court filed a motion for summary judgment and claimed sovereign immunity. The trial court denied the motion, and the Family Court appealed. The Commonwealth Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the trial court’s order did not meet the third prong of the collateral order doctrine. The Supreme Court reversed and ruled that “because sovereign immunity protects government entities from a lawsuit itself, we conclude that a sovereign immunity defense is irreparably lost if appellate review of an adverse decision on sovereign immunity is postponed until after final judgment”.

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