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POULOS v. COMMONWEALTH (05/27/70)

decided: May 27, 1970.

POULOS
v.
COMMONWEALTH, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1965, No. 430, in case of George J. Poulos, also known as George J. Kiryacoupoulos et ux. v. Commonwealth.

COUNSEL

Andrew L. Weil, Special Assistant Attorney General, with him John R. Rezzolla, Jr., Deputy Attorney General, and William C. Sennett, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellant.

Harry S. Kalson, for appellees.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones. Mr. Chief Justice Bell and Mr. Justice O'Brien dissent and would affirm the grant of a new trial because they find no abuse of discretion.

Author: Jones

[ 438 Pa. Page 443]

On August 31, 1953, George J. Poulos and Lena Poulos, his wife, (plaintiffs) purchased an undeveloped 27.76 acre piece of ground in Allegheny County for $10,000. The property had 550 feet of frontage on the

[ 438 Pa. Page 444]

Airport Parkway, and a 1224 foot boundary with the Nelson Industrial Park in the rear.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, on January 8, 1962, condemned 1.38 acres of the plaintiffs' land (approximately 5% of the total) and eliminated all access for the property to the Airport Parkway.

A board of viewers awarded damages for the taking of $31,300, plus $4,466 in detention damages. The plaintiffs appealed from that award to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, and a jury trial was held in October of 1965. At trial, the plaintiffs' two experts estimated the amount of damages at $245,000 and at $230,000, whereas the Commonwealth's expert estimated damages of only $16,200. The judge and jury also had a "view" of the premises, as provided for by the Act of May 21, 1895, P. L. 89, § 2, 26 P.S. § 82. Cf. Act of June 22, 1964, Special Sess., P. L. 84, art. VII, § 703, as amended, December 5, 1969, P. L. [ILLEGIBLE WORD], § 1, 26 P.S. § 1-703(1) (Supp. 1970). Following a lengthy and comprehensive charge by the court, the jury returned a verdict of $25,000 and refused to assess detention damages.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for a new trial on May 2, 1966, which motion was not acted upon until March 3, 1969, almost three years later. The court then granted a new trial, solely because of an allegedly inadequate verdict.

The Commonwealth has appealed directly to this Court, pursuant to the Eminent Domain Code, Act of June 22, 1964, P. L. 84, art. V, § 523, 26 P.S. § 1-523 (Supp. 1970), claiming that the grant of a new trial was an abuse of discretion.

Neither party to this appeal contends that any trial errors were committed, and our sole consideration is whether the lower court properly found the jury verdict to be ...


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