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Wise v. Huntingdon Cnty. Hous. Dev. Corp.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

April 28, 2021

Wise v. Huntingdon Cnty. Hous. Dev. Corp. resulted from a negligence suit filed after the plaintiff tripped and fell on a sidewalk in a public housing development. The plaintiff claimed that insufficient lighting caused her fall and that the housing authority was liable for her injuries. The housing authority moved for summary judgment based on sovereign immunity and argued that 42 Pa.C.S. ยง 8522(b)(4) waives sovereign immunity only when there is a defect in the land. In the view of the housing authority, lighting is not part of the land, and so a defect with it cannot waive sovereign immunity. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that sovereign immunity is waived by statute when the dangerous condition derives, originates, or has as its source the Commonwealth realty. Here, the Court found that the inadequate lighting, coupled with the condition of the sidewalk and foliage around it led to a waiver of sovereign immunity and reversed the lower court’s order.

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