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HARRIS v. PITTSBURGH URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (06/13/68)

decided: June 13, 1968.

HARRIS
v.
PITTSBURGH URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1965, No. 1573, in case of Willis O. Harris v. Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh.

COUNSEL

Thomas H. Welsh, with him Richard W. Kelly, H. L. Abrams and William H. Mendlow, for appellant.

Leonard M. Mendelson, for appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Hannum, JJ. Opinion by Watkins, J.

Author: Watkins

[ 212 Pa. Super. Page 234]

This is an appeal from the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County entered upon a molded verdict after a trial by jury in favor of Willis O. Harris, the appellee, and against Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, the appellant, in an eminent domain proceeding.

The appellee was the lessee of the Hotel Kenyon located at 824 Federal Street on the north side of the City of Pittsburgh which was condemned by the Authority on April 6, 1962 and the appellee gave up possession of the premises on April 6, 1965.

Viewers were appointed and a hearing held at which the Authority offered no expert testimony. The viewers made an award in favor of the appellee and the Authority took an appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.

The Authority contends that the court below committed error when it stated in the charge to the jury that the proceedings came before the court and jury on "an appeal from the award of the Board of Viewers". The court also stated, at the instance of the appellant that the word "award" had the same meaning as the word "verdict"; and with this the appellant seemed satisfied. It was made clear to the jury that this was a trial "de novo" or as the court said, "heard all over again". We see no prejudice to the appellant as the one taking the appeal was not disclosed or the nature of the award. Brown & Vaughn Development Co. v. Commonwealth, 393 Pa. 589, 143 A.2d 815 (1958).

The Authority also contends the court below erred in refusing to permit the Authority to introduce evidence of a conviction of appellee in Allegheny County of the offenses of keeping a bawdy house and a house of assignation in 1959, after the appellee on direct examination

[ 212 Pa. Super. Page 235]

    outlined his previous occupations and service including his service record. This was done without objection by Authority. This evidence was not material to the case and would have been excluded under proper objection. Greenberg v. Aetna Ins. Co., 427 Pa. 494, 235 A.2d 582 (1967). However, Authority sought to attack the appellee generally by introduction of the criminal record. The admission of such evidence is largely up to the discretion of the trial court and under the circumstances of this case its exclusion was not an abuse of such discretion. Keough v. Republic Fuel and Burner Co., Inc., 382 Pa. 593, 116 A.2d 671 (1955).

Authority also claims the trial court erred in molding the verdict returned by the jury. The jury, after evidence was given, and the court charged as to how an award could be reduced ...


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