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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. LEX R. MCGUIRE AND CHARLOTTE E. MCGUIRE (02/28/79)

decided: February 28, 1979.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, APPELLANT
v.
LEX R. MCGUIRE AND CHARLOTTE E. MCGUIRE, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County in case of Lex R. McGuire and Charlotte E. McGuire, husband and wife v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, No. 1285-1974.

COUNSEL

Charles A. Buechel, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, with him Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Attorney General-Chief Counsel, and Gerald Gornish, for appellant.

William K. Eckel, for appellees.

Judges Mencer, DiSalle and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 15]

On April 2, 1974, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) condemned 18.46 acres of the McGuires' land for highway purposes. Following a hearing, the board of viewers awarded the McGuires (condemnees) $22,400.00 for the taking of the 18.46 acres and the damages resulting from the landlocking of 9.63 acres.

Both parties appealed the board's award to the Court of Common Pleas. The jury awarded condemnees $14,050.00 in damages from which verdict condemnees filed a motion for a new trial, which the trial court granted. PennDOT has appealed the lower court's order to this court pursuant to Section 402(6)

[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 16]

    of the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act of 1970, Act of July 31, 1970, P.L. 233, 17 P.S. ยง 211.101 et seq.*fn1

We reverse the lower court's order granting condemnees' motion for a new trial and remand to the lower court for reinstatement of the jury verdict.

A motion for new trial is addressed to the discretion of the trial court, based on circumstances of the particular case. A court's action in granting or refusing such a motion will therefore not be reversed by this Court in the absence of a manifest abuse of discretion or a clear error of law. Gallo v. Redevelopment Authority, 19 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 71, 339 A.2d 165 (1975).

PennDOT contends that the grant of a new trial constituted a clear abuse of discretion because the court's decision was not grounded on any legally or factually sufficient basis. We agree.

The trial court cited four factors for its conclusion that the jury award was inadequate and the grant ...


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