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CHAPLESKI v. DEPARTMENT TRANSPORTATION (05/30/72)

decided: May 30, 1972.

CHAPLESKI, ET AL.
v.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northumberland County, in case of Leonard T. Chapleski and Walter M. Folger, t/d/b/a Folger and Chapleski Contracting and Wrecking Company, a Partnership, and Ranshaw Transportation and Auto Wreckers Co., a Partnership v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Highways, No. 254, September Term, 1968.

COUNSEL

Pasco L. Schiavo, with him Sanford S. Marateck, and Lark, Makowski and Marateck, for appellants.

John K. Kraybill, Assistant Attorney General, with him Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Attorney General, and J. Shane Creamer, Attorney General.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. President Judge Bowman did not participate. Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Blatt

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 483]

This appeal is brought from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Northumberland County dismissing the appellants' appeal from objections to an in limine report of the Board of Viewers.

The appellants, as two partnerships, are the owners of two parcels of land in Coal Township, Northumberland County, which they purchased from the County in 1959. Each of the deeds conveying the parcels to the appellants contained the following clause: "Reserving unto the Northumberland County Commissioners any claim for damages by reason of the widening or relocation of State Highway Route 49015." On July 27, 1963, the appellants conveyed one parcel to Thomas Coal, Inc., and on September 22, 1966, this parcel was reconveyed to the appellants. Both of these deeds also contained the above-mentioned reservation clause. In

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 484]

September 1968, the Commonwealth filed a plan with the Court of Common Pleas of Northumberland County which condemned certain portions of the appellants' property for the widening and relocation of Route 49015, taking approximately 6 1/2 acres.

Because of the clause in the appellants' deeds reserving condemnation damages for the County, the Commonwealth refused to award the appellants any damages. The appellants, therefore, filed a petition with the lower court asking that court to rescind the reservation and declare it invalid. Both the appellants and the Commonwealth agreed to submit the matter initially to the Board of Viewers, and, following its hearing, the Board submitted an in limine report holding that the reservation was valid and the County was entitled to any condemnation damages. The lower court affirmed this decision and dismissed the appellants' objections thereto. We must affirm that decision.

The essential issue before us is the meaning of the clause in the deeds. Was it applicable only to condemnation damages existant in 1959 when the deeds were executed? It is clear that: "Nothing is more firmly settled in the law than the fact that the owner of land at the time of condemnation by eminent domain proceedings is entitled to any damages which result from the condemnation. . . ." Smith v. Commonwealth, 351 Pa. 68, 71, 40 A.2d 383, 384 (1945). It is equally clear, however, that a grantor may, if he so states clearly in the deed, reserve for himself condemnation damages to the land transferred. Covert Appeal, 409 Pa. 290, 186 A.2d 20 (1962); Krill v. Petitto, 405 Pa. 203, 175 A.2d 54 (1961). In our interpretation of the reservation clause here concerned, we must be guided by the rules applicable to the construction of deeds stated by the Supreme Court in Yuscavage v. Hamlin, 391 Pa. 13, 16,

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 485137]

A.2d 242, 244 (1958), and which provide: "(1) that the nature and quantity of the interest conveyed must be ascertained from the instrument itself and cannot be orally shown in the absence of fraud, accident or mistake and we seek to ascertain not what the parties may have intended by the language but what is the meaning of the words; (2) effect must be given to all the language of the instrument and no part shall be rejected if it can be given a meaning; (3) the language of the deed shall be interpreted in ...


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