Appeal, No. 125, March T., 1960, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, July T., 1957, No. 343, in case of Franklin Estates, Inc. v. Equitable Gas Company. Decree reversed.
Edward S. Stiteler, with him John M. Horn, and Smith, Best & Horn, for appellant.
C. William Berger, with him Morris M. Berger, Bernard S. Shire, and Berger & Berger, and Ezerski & Shire, for appellee.
Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Eagen, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BENJAMIN R. JONES.
Prior to December 21, 1956, the appellant, Equitable Gas Company [herein called Equitable], pursuant to the power of eminent domain conferred upon it by the Natural Gas Act of May 29, 1885, P.L. 29, 15 PS § 2034, condemned a right of way to lay a 16-inch pipeline for the transportation of natural gas over and through a certain tract of land in Franklin Township, Westmoreland County, owned by the appellee, Franklin Estates, Inc. [herein called Franklin]. On December 21, 1956, the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland
County approved a bond tendered by Equitable to secure payment of any damages resulting from the appropriation of the said right of way.
Thereafter, on August 20, 1957, Franklin petitioned the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County for the appointment of a board of viewers to view and assess damages to the property condemned. By order of court dated the same day, the court appointed appropriate persons to make the view and assessment of damages. This order provided: "Returnable the first Monday of... 1957".
After due notice to all parties, the viewers met on December 12, 1957 and examined the premises. Franklin and Equitable were in attendance by their counsel.
A hearing was held on May 28, 1958, in the courthouse in Greensburg, Westmoreland County, after due and proper notice to all parties. At that time the viewers heard all persons interested in the matter and their witnesses.
On November 6, 1958, - approximately eleven months after the return date specified in the original order had expired -, the board of viewers filed its report awarding Franklin $1200 in damages. On the same ...