Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, April T., 1965, No. 2029, in case of August Gottus and Theresa Gottus, his wife v. Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County.
Alan L. Ackerman, with him Sylvan Lisbon, for appellant.
William Claney Smith, for appellees.
Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen. Mr. Justice Cohen concurs in the result.
On June 27, 1963,*fn1 the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County (Authority) by virtue of its power of eminent domain, through proper resolution, condemned and appropriated certain lands, including improvements and fixtures thereon, of August and Theresa Gottus for the purpose of redevelopment. The Board of View of Allegheny County awarded the owners damages in the amount of $65,000. Both sides appealed to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, and a jury trial resulted in a verdict in favor of the owners in the amount of $87,125 (including detention damages). The Authority appeals from the judgment entered on the verdict.
The appellant contends that prejudicial trial errors require a new trial. The assignments of error will be discussed ad seriatim.
The land condemned consisted of a double lot, forty feet by one hundred and twenty feet, in the central business district of McKees Rocks. The improvements consisted of three buildings. The owners conducted a retail cleaning business on the premises which included a retail front for the collection and distribution of clothes, clothes racks, pressing equipment and machinery for the washing and cleaning of clothes. The last mentioned equipment was housed in a building specially constructed for this purpose.
After the taking was effected the Gottuses established the business at a new location. They removed, from the condemned premises to the new business address, all of the clothes racks and pressing equipment, but left behind the cleaning and washing machinery
which was eventually sold by the Authority at public sale.
The washing and cleaning machinery was described as a Stoddard Solvent System. It was not unique and merely bolted to the floor. However, through the installation of piping and special electrical wiring, the premises were adapted to the use of this equipment. In the cleaning process a petroleum base solvent circulated through the washers, was recovered from the washers, dryers and extractor, then purified by a filter and still and deposited in an underground tank for further use. Specifically, this machinery included as an integral part of the operation two washers, three dryers, a filter, an extractor, two reserve tanks, a water repellant machine and three pumps.
At trial the condemnees took the position that the cleaning machinery was a compensable part of the realty by application of the Assembled Industrial Plant Doctrine, and introduced expert opinion testimony as to the value of the realty as an assembled operating cleaning plant. These witnesses first fixed the fair market value of the realty as a cleaning plant in operation, without consideration for good will, and deducted from that sum the value of the equipment removed and taken to the new business location. The condemnor, on the other hand, maintained that the machinery involved could have been removed without damage to the realty, was personal property and should not be considered in fixing the realty value. The trial court charged the jury that in determining the value of the property condemned, the land, buildings and machinery were to be taken into consideration, the Assembled Industrial Plant ...