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ROMESBERG v. CAPLAN IRON AND STEEL COMPANY (11/11/57)

November 11, 1957

ROMESBERG
v.
CAPLAN IRON AND STEEL COMPANY, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 212, March T., 1957, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Somerset County, 1952, No. 743 C.D., in case of Robert Romesberg et al. v. Caplan Iron and Steel Company. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Nathaniel A. Barbera, with him Paul J. Abraham and Shaver, Heckman & Barbera, for appellant.

Leland W. Walker, for appellees.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno, Arnold, Jones and Cohen, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 390 Pa. Page 413]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

[ 390 Pa. Page 414]

The Caplan Iron and Steel Company, the defendant in this case, committed an error as distinguished in bizarreness as it was inexcusable in law. It went on to land it did not own and with torches, wrecking bars, cutting instruments and other aggressive devices proceeded to destroy a three-story steel building it did not own. Robert and Thelma Romesberg, owners of the building, sued Caplan.

The Caplan company replied that it had only made a mistake, and explained that it had purchased a piece of land which contained a structure which the vendors had represented to be their own, and, since Caplan did not want the structure, it started out to dismantle it.

In their complaint the plaintiffs described the steel building as a quarrying plant and stone crusher which was in good operating condition. The defendant company, now being charged with having reduced the building to ruins, saw it through different eyes and described the building as an old, dilapidated affair in such a state of disrepair that it constituted a menace to the public. Caplan said in effect that it performed an act of generous general welfare in seeking to eradicate this junk piece from the face of the earth.

The controversy came on for trial before Judge LANSBERRY of Somerset County, sitting without a jury. Some 500 printed pages of testimony were taken, the plaintiffs specifying that their total losses amounted to $37,338.07. Caplan pleaded freedom from liability since it had entered upon the plaintiffs' property innocently and had ceased its dismantling operation when notified of the plaintiffs' claim of title.

Judge LANSBERRY entered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs in the sum of $15,850. Caplan appealed to this Court, which reversed and sent the case back to the Trial ...


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