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LEWIS v. URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY PITTSBURGH (04/13/72)

decided: April 13, 1972.

LEWIS, ET AL.
v.
URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF PITTSBURGH



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Ruth Harrison Lewis, Dorothy Harrison Starr and Charlotte Harrison Hanks v. Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, No. 948 October Term, 1966.

COUNSEL

Richard W. Kelly, with him William G. Sutter, Jr., H. L. Abrams and M. Victoria Geddis, for appellant.

Gerald C. Paris, with him Frank W. Ittel and Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellees.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 177]

The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (Urban), by declaration of taking filed July 27, 1966, condemned certain real estate in the City of Pittsburgh which was owned by three sisters, Ruth Harrison Lewis, Dorothy Harrison Starr and Charlotte Harrison Hanks (appellees). The property had been previously owned by Charlotte Harrison, mother of the appellees, who had died on December 13, 1960. Charlotte Harrison's last will and testament directed that her estate be divided into four equal parts and distributed, one-fourth to each of her three daughters, Charlotte, Dorothy and Ruth, and one-fourth to the Women's Missionary Society of the Second-Fifth United Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh.

Dorothy Harrison Starr and Ruth Harrison Lewis were named executrices of their mother's estate and on January 3, 1964 they petitioned the Orphans' Court of Allegheny County for approval of the sale of the real estate, subsequently condemned by Urban, to themselves and their sister, Charlotte Harrison Hanks. Appellees were permitted to purchase the real estate in question, for the sum of $12,000, by order of said Orphans' Court under date of January 16, 1964, and the

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 178]

Clerk of the Orphans' Court was directed to execute and deliver a deed to appellees.

Urban filed a petition for the appointment of viewers on November 17, 1966, and the appointed viewers thereafter viewed the condemned property on January 10, 1967. A viewers' hearing was conducted on October 18, 1967, at which time testimony was taken on behalf of all parties. On December 27, 1967, the viewers rendered their award in favor of the appellees in the amount of $22,500. From this award Urban and appellees each filed an appeal. A jury trial followed and the jury rendered its verdict in favor of appellees in the amount of $15,000. Appellees filed a motion for a new trial which was granted by the court below.

The sole question presented by this appeal is whether the order of the court below granting the motion for a new trial was a proper exercise of judicial discretion.

Recently, Mr. Justice Pomeroy, in Austin v. Ridge, 435 Pa. 1, 255 A.2d 123 (1969), ably discussed the principles of law which apply to this question. We quote ...


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