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REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY COUNTY BUCKS v. AUGUSTINE G. ASTA (12/05/74)

decided: December 5, 1974.

REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF THE COUNTY OF BUCKS, APPELLANT,
v.
AUGUSTINE G. ASTA, NARDINE ASTA, JOHN V. ASTA AND BENJAMIN D. ASTA, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, in case of The Redevelopment Authority of the County of Bucks v. Augustine G. Asta, Nardine Asta, John V. Asta and Benjamin D. Asta, No. 4138-D, E, F, G, H and I, May Term, 1969.

COUNSEL

Edward C. Connolly, with him Connolly, McAndrews, Kihm & Stevens, for appellant.

David H. Moskowitz, with him Weiss, Nelson & Moskowitz, for appellees.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer and Wilkinson, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 80]

This is an appeal filed by the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Bucks (Authority) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, dated January 21, 1974, granting a new trial to Augustine G. Asta, Nardine Asta, John V. Asta and Benjamin D. Asta (Asta), the condemnees in an eminent domain case.

On August 18, 1969, the Authority filed a declaration of taking which included among other properties, thirteen properties owned by Asta. Some of the Asta properties were contiguous, and all were located within one block of each other in an area of Bristol Borough which had been declared blighted. On February 23, 1971, Asta filed a petition for the appointment of a Board of View, which was granted on the following day. After hearing, the Board of View awarded damages in the amount of $84,700, together with damages for delay on that amount from August 18, 1969 to November 24, 1969 (the date on which $51,200 was paid on account) and damages for delay thereafter on the remaining balance to the date of payment.

The Authority filed an appeal to the court below on February 23, 1972.*fn1 Prior to trial before the lower court, the parties entered into a stipulation in which, among other things, $3,500 was agreed to be just compensation for one of the 13 Asta properties. During the trial, the jury was taken to the subject properties for a view of the buildings not yet demolished. The jury also was given photographs of all of the buildings showing their general appearance at the time of the taking. A real estate appraiser for the condemnees testified that $130,000 was the fair market value of the remaining 12

[ 16 Pa. Commw. Page 81]

    pieces of property, and a real estate appraiser for the Authority valued the properties at $57,500. The jury returned a verdict in the amount of $58,500, which, together with the stipulated $3,500 resulted in a total verdict of $62,000.

Following the verdict, Asta filed a motion for a new trial which raised 17 issues. Four of these were briefed and argued before a three-judge panel of the lower court. On January 21, 1974, the court below issued its order granting a new trial. No opinion was written at the time the order was issued. On February 7, 1974, the Authority filed its appeal with this Court and, thereafter, on March 11, 1974, the lower court issued its opinion in support of the order granting a new trial. The opinion of the court below states that three of the four grounds presented by Asta for a new trial were without merit, but that a new trial should be awarded because the court determined that it had erred by refusing to permit counsel for Asta to cross-examine the Authority's expert witness concerning the fees which that witness had been paid for his appraisal work relating to the 12 properties in question.

In its appeal to this Court, the Authority raises only the issue concerning the court's determination that it had erred in prohibiting the cross-examination mentioned above. Although Asta did not take an appeal to this Court, Asta attempts to raise the three additional issues it raised before the court below, but which were determined by that court to be without merit. Only the Authority appealed from the order of the court below, and the lower court's sole reason for granting a new trial was that it had erred by prohibiting the above-mentioned cross-examination. We agree with the Authority that the prohibited cross-examination is the only issue before this Court.

In Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia v. United Novelty & Premium Co., Inc., 11 ...


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