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BUEHLER v. COMMONWEALTH. (05/14/62)

May 14, 1962

BUEHLER, APPELLANT,
v.
COMMONWEALTH.



Appeal, No. 6, Jan. T., 1962, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, Feb. T., 1960, No. 40, in case of Charles G. Buehler and Eva M. Buehler v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Harold J. Ryan, with him Samuel B. Russell, and Ryan & Russell, for appellants.

James Patrick Garrity, Assistant Attorney General, with him Robert W. Cunliffe, Assistant Attorney General, John R. Rezzolla, Jr., Chief Counsel, and David Stahl, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen and O'brien, JJ.

Author: O'brien

[ 407 Pa. Page 331]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE O'BRIEN

On June 9, 1954, appellants acquired certain real estate abutting the southerly side of U.S. Route 22

[ 407 Pa. Page 332]

    in Bethel Township, Berks County. The property had a frontage of more than one-quarter of a mile on said highway and was used by appellants as the site for their residence, as well as for the operation of a motel business. On July 28, 1958, the Commonwealth condemned for highway purposes, a portion of appellants' land. The board of viewers awarded the property owners $27,000 including damages for delay to the date of the viewer's report. The Commonwealth appealed the award to the court of common pleas, and, after trial, the jury awarded the property owners $16,133, being $14,600 damages for the taking and $1,533 for delay. The property owners filed a motion for a new trial which was refused by the court en banc. It is from the refusal of a new trial and entry of judgment on the verdict of the jury that the property owners appeal.

Appellants argue that the trial court fell into prejudicial error when it refused them an opportunity to show that the sale to them of the premises in question was a forced sale, after the Commonwealth had put in evidence the price paid by appellants for the property.

The deed evidencing appellants' title was offered in evidence by them, solely to prove title in them. In crossexamination, the Commonwealth elicited from Charles Buehler that the purchase price was $32,000. The Commonwealth then went on to show that the deed contained a handwritten notation to the effect that the actual consideration was $25,200. Both Charles Buehler and his grantor, as well as a witness to the agreement of sale, testified that the sale price was $32,000, with no value having been set on some items of personalty which were included in the sale. The settlement sheet prepared at the time of the closing was introduced by the Commonwealth and shows a consideration of $25,200 and an additional $5,000 for personalty. Both Buehler and his grantor expressed ignorance of the reason that the settlement sheet reads as it does and

[ 407 Pa. Page 333]

    of the handwritten notation on the deed. Appellants' grantor testified that the only explanation he could offer for the $25,200 figure was that that was the amount of cash changing hands, he, the grantor, having received as part of the consideration ...


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