Appeal, No. 178, March T., 1960, from order of Superior Court, April T., 1959, No. 114, affirming order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1955, No. 816, in case of Herman H. Recht v. The Urban Redevelopment Authority of the City of Clairton. Judgment reversed; reargument refused March 10, 1961.
Joseph I. Lewis, for appellant.
William M. Acker, with him John B. Nicklas, Jr., and McCrady & Nicklas, for appellee.
Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Eagen, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BENJAMIN R. JONES.
This is an appeal from a decision of the Superior Court (191 Pa. Superior Ct. 404, 156 A.2d 877), which affirmed a judgment entered by the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the amount of $750 with interest and costs in favor of J. B. Nicklas, Jr., an attorney, and against Herman Recht, a judgment which the court directed be a "charging lien" against a jury verdict recovered by Recht against the Urban Redevelopment Authority of the City of Clairton (Authority).
The issue herein presented is: may an attorney assert a "charging lien" against a judgment recovered as a jury verdict in an appeal from a viewers' award in a condemnation proceeding if the attorney took no part in the preparation or trial of the appeal proceeding?
Recht owned an undivided one-sixth interest in certain real estate in the city of Clairton. This realty was condemned by the Authority of that city in eminent domain proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, No. 312 April Term, 1954.*fn1 A board
of viewers was appointed and proceedings were held before the viewers which resulted in an award of $22,500, of which $3,750 represented Recht's share. Attorney Nicklas took part in that proceeding, filed and argued exceptions to the viewers' award and he further prepared and filed a petition for appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County on behalf of all the tenants in common (No. 1057 January Term, 1955). However, all of the parties, with the exception of Recht, finally accepted the viewers' award rather than proceed with a jury trial.
Attorney Nicklas then submitted a bill of $750 to Recht for his services rendered in the viewers' proceeding (No. 312 April Term). Recht denied that Attorney Nicklas represented his interests in that proceeding or that he was ever retained to do so, and, accordingly, refused to pay the bill.
Subsequently, a separate appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County was filed on behalf of Recht (No 816 January Term, 1955) by Louis Rosenfield, Esq.*fn2 After a trial, Recht recovered a verdict of $6,360 against the Authority upon which a judgment was duly entered. Attorney Nicklas did not participate in that proceeding.
Thereafter, Attorney Nicklas presented a petition praying for a charging lien against the verdict and judgment thereon awarded to Recht. The court, acting in the capacity of a chancellor, granted a rule on Recht and the Authority to show cause why the sum of $750 (fee for services) ...