Teal v. Bd. of Comm’Rs of Haverford Twp. (USA)

James D. Schneller, individually and on behalf of Philadelphia Metro Task Force (PMTF) (collectively, Schneller), appealled a denial of his Petition to Succeed Plaintiff and to Join Counts (Petition) in Fred W. Teal v. Board of Commissioners of Haverford Township, Pennsylvania, Case No. 11-1989 (Teal).  On appeal, the court considered (1) whether the Delaware County Office of Judicial Support (Office of Judicial Support) properly transmitted the trial court’s record to this Court; (2) whether the trial court erred or abused its discretion by refusing to substitute Schneller for Fred W. Teal (Teal) and to join new causes of action to Teal; and, (3) whether the trial court erred or abused its discretion by concluding that Schneller lacked standing.

PMTF “is an organization that attempts to maintain family values in local governments in Southeastern Pennsylvania, mainly, and otherwise support[s] the more traditional and moral[-]based tenants (sic) of society and of local government.”  On February 14, 2011, Haverford Township (Township) Board of Commissioners (Board) enacted Ordinance 183 which created a Township Human Relations Commission and prohibited unlawful discrimination as follows:

[T]o ensure that all persons, regardless of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, handicap or disability, . . . or because of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression enjoy the full benefits of citizenship and are afforded equal opportunities for employment, housing, commercial property, and the use of public accommodations . . . .

On March 14, 2011, Teal filed a petition for review and permanent injunction with the trial court seeking to prohibit the Board from implementing Ordinance 183 because it was improperly enacted, and the Board exceeded its powers by granting equal opportunity protections based upon “a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” The Board filed preliminary objections to Teal’s petition. On May 13, 2011, the trial court denied the Board’s preliminary objections, and granted Teal leave to file a complaint.

Teal died on September 21, 2012. On October 4, 2012, the Board filed with the trial court a notice of Teal’s death. Because no personal representative was appointed over Teal’s estate, the trial court record was returned to the Delaware County Office of Judicial Support with an order that either party may file a praecipe within one year to list the matter for trial or, after one year, to abate the proceeding.

On January 23, 2013, Schneller filed his Petition, wherein he claimed standing as a taxpayer and private attorney general, and sought to add a discrimination claim to Teal’s original complaint. Argument on the Petition was held before the trial court on February 28, 2013. On March 1, 2013, the trial court denied the Petition. Schneller appealed to this Court.

Schneller argued that the trial court erred or abused its discretion by concluding that he and PMTF lacked standing. The basis of Teal’s complaint was the alleged improper enactment of the Township Ordinance 183.  Schneller did not reside in the Township nor did he have any property, business or commercial interests in the Township. Moreover, there was no evidence that PMTF was located in the Township, or that any of its members resided in the Township, and none of the members alleged any injury as a result of the challenged action. Where there is no obvious connection between Schneller and PMTF and the Township or the challenged ordinance, and no discernible adverse effect to an interest other than the abstract interest of the general citizenry, the appellate court held that the trial court did not err or abuse its discretion by concluding that Schneller and PMTF lacked standing.

Teal v. Bd. of Comm’Rs of Haverford Twp.

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Ordinance 183.