decided: October 31, 1975.
WILLIS J. AND JANE H. GILPIN AND GABRIELLE B. AND WILLIAM C. GUMBLE
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT
Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Wayne County in case of In Re: Condemnation by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, of Right of Way for Legislative Route 1012, Section 5, Deed Book 238, Page 265, Claim No. 6301129. Willis J. and Jane H. Gilpin and Gabrielle B. and William C. Gumble v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, No. 277 April Term, 1971.
Peter J. Comerota, Special Assistant Attorney General, with him Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for appellant.
Jack G. Linshaw, for appellees.
Judges Mencer, Rogers and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
[ 21 Pa. Commw. Page 492]
The Commonwealth's Department of Transportation (PennDOT) condemned for highway construction purposes, 24.3 acres of a 140 acre premises owned by Willis J. and Jane H. Gilpin, his wife, and Gabrielle B. and William C. Gumble, her husband, located in Sterling Township, Wayne County. The condemnation, in addition to the taking, bisected the condemnees' property creating two tracts, one containing 35.4 acres with no improvements and the other containing 80.3 acres improved with a dwelling house, barn and other outbuildings.
A board of viewers awarded the condemnees damages in the amount of $13,250. Both parties appealed.
At the trial in the court below the condemnees' expert witness testified to damages of $56,500 and one of the owners to damages of $80,000. PennDOT's two experts testified, respectively, to damages of $7200 and $5500. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the condemnees in the amount of $7200. The condemnees filed a motion for new trial which the court granted, subject to the condition that if the condemnor should agree to pay and the condemnees agree to accept $13,250 the grant of new trial would be denied. PennDOT has appealed, asserting that the court's order was an abuse of its discretion. We disagree and affirm the lower court's order.
The court below gave valid reasons for its conclusion that the verdict was inadequate and not truly reflective
[ 21 Pa. Commw. Page 493]
of the amount of damages. It pointed out the wide disparity in the damages fixed by the various witnesses and the substantial disparity between the jury's verdict and the amount of damages awarded by the board of viewers. In Mazur v. Commonwealth, 390 Pa. 148, 134 A.2d 669 (1957), on which the lower court relied, our Supreme Court affirmed the grant of a new trial on facts and in circumstances strikingly similar to those here. We discern no abuse of discretion in the court's action.
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