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EXXON CORPORATION v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/17/73)

decided: October 17, 1973.

EXXON CORPORATION, CONDEMNEE, APPELLANT,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, CONDEMNOR, AND RICHARD E. AND MARY L. LAW, CONDEMNEES, APPELLEES. EXXON CORPORATION, CONDEMNEE, APPELLANT, V. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, CONDEMNOR, APPELLEE



Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County in case of In Re: Condemnation by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, of Right of Way for Legislative Route 1075, Section 1, Richard E. and Mary L. Law (Owners), Humble Oil & Refining Company (Lessee), Nos. 170-F and 170-G, May Term, 1970.

COUNSEL

Robert C. Spitzer, with him Nauman, Smith, Shissler & Hall, for appellant.

Jerry R. Richwine, Assistant Attorney General, with him Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Attorney General, and Israel Packel, Attorney General, for condemnor-appellee.

Brett A. Huckabee, with him Frederick G. McGavin, for condemnee-appellee.

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

Author: Wilkinson

[ 10 Pa. Commw. Page 302]

In these eminent domain proceedings, the Commonwealth (Condemnor) filed a single declaration of taking for five (5) tracts of land, the parties in interest therein being five separate and distinct owners, and four lessees. Each of the condemnees was assigned a separate docket number by the Prothonotary, with Richard E. and Mary L. Law (lessors-condemnees) being assigned 170-F and the Humble Oil & Refining Company (lessee-condemnee -- now Exxon Corporation) being assigned number 170-G. A Board of View was appointed and both Exxon, lessee of Tract 5, and the Laws, owners of Tract 5, participated in the proceedings

[ 10 Pa. Commw. Page 303]

    before the Board which made an award of $50,000 to the Laws and $60,000 to Exxon. The viewers' report mistakenly referred only to Docket No. 170-F to which the Prothonotary added 170-G, the docket number of Exxon.

Within the 30-day appeal period set forth in Section 515 of the Eminent Domain Code, Act of June 22, 1964, P.L. 84, Special Session, as amended, 26 P.S. § 1-515, the condemnor and the lessor-condemnee filed appeals from the award of the Board of View. The condemnor's appeal, however, referred only to Docket No. 170-F, i.e., the award to the Laws. The appeal did not refer to Docket No. 170-G, i.e., the award to Exxon. The appeal identified the interest of the condemnee as follows: "The interest of the condemnees in the aforesaid property is ownership in fee simple." Exxon sought to quash the condemnor's and lessor-condemnee's appeals as to the award to Exxon. The Court of Common Pleas of Berks County dismissed Exxon's petition. These appeals followed.

Although the order of the lower court was interlocutory, it determined the jurisdiction question of whether the appeals by the condemnor and the lessor-condemnee were properly taken from the Board of View to the Court of Common Pleas. The Act of March 5, 1925, P.L. 23, 12 P.S. § 672, provides that interlocutory orders involving jurisdictional questions are appealable. Miller Estate v. Department of Highways, 424 Pa. 477, 481, 227 A.2d 679, 681 (1967). The order of the lower court, therefore, was appealable.

The primary issue before this Court is whether the condemnor's appeal satisfied the statutory requirements of Section 516(a) of the Eminent Domain Code so as to appeal the award to the lessee-condemnee. The lower court believed that the ...


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