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MORRIS v. COMMONWEALTH (05/23/51)

May 23, 1951

MORRIS
v.
COMMONWEALTH, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 39, March T., 1951, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Aug. T., 1949, No. 260, in case of Perry F. Morris v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Ralph W. Peacock, with him Charles J. Margiotti, Attorney General, Phil H. Lewis, Deputy Attorney General, Joseph C. Laws, John R. Rezzolla, Jr., and Thomas C. Evans, for appellant.

Howard F. Carson, for appellee.

Before Drew, C.j., Stern, Stearne, Jones, Bell, Ladner and Chidsey, JJ.

Author: Chidsey

[ 367 Pa. Page 411]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE CHIDSEY

Following condemnation by the Commonwealth of a portion of the land of Perry F. Morris, appellee, for the relocation of a highway, viewers awarded him damages in the sum of $4,500. The Commonwealth appealed and a jury awarded damages in the amount of $10,000. The Court refused the Commonwealth's motion for new trial upon appellee's filing a remittitur reducing the verdict to $8,000. The Commonwealth now appeals from the refusal of the court below to grant a new trial.

[ 367 Pa. Page 412]

Appellee's property is situate in Fallowfield Township, Washington County, and consists of a total of 87.72 acres separated by roads into three tracts consisting of 57.44 acres, 9.60 acres and 20.68 acres. Since 1930 appellee has operated this entire property as a dairy farm, and for 15 years prior thereto he managed the same property as a dairy farm for his father.

When appellee acquired the property there was a church on the 9.60 acre tract, which is the middle tract. Subsequent to his acquisition of the property appellee had conveyed small portions of the 9.60 acre tract contiguous to the church. The 20.68 acre tract is not directly adjacent to the other two tracts, but lies in close proximity. The area taken by the Commonwealth for road construction lies wholly within the 20.68 acre portion of appellee's farm and amounts to about three acres for right-of-way, slopes, and fills. However, about six acres were thereby cut off from the remainder of the 20.68 acre tract by the new highway. Through this six acre portion ran a stream of the use of which appellee is now deprived. The taking of pasture land and deprivation of use of a water supply caused the appellee to reduce the size of his herd and, as a consequence, the barn and storage facilities are uneconomically used at considerably less than capacity.

Appellant contends that (1) the 20.68 acre portion of the farm is not contiguous to the remainder of appellee's farm and it alone should be the basis for determining damages rather than the entire farm, and (2) the reduced verdict of $8,000 is still excessive.

Appellant relies upon a number of cases clearly distinguishable from the instant case. In Pennsylvania Co. for Ins. on Lives & Granting Annuities v. Pennsylvania Schuylkill Valley R.R. Co., 151 Pa. 334, 25 A. 107, plaintiff owned a tract fronting ...


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