Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in case of John Bosacco and L. J. Rendin v. Redevelopment Authority of the City of Chester, No. 76-3084.
Samuel M. Tollen, with him Tollen and Tollen, for appellant.
Murray S. Eckell, with him Nicholas J. Emper, and Eckell, Sparks, Vadino, Auerbach and Monte, for appellee.
Judges Mencer, Rogers and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
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This is an appeal by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Chester (condemnor) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County denying
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the condemnor's motion for a new trial in an eminent domain proceeding.
On March 16, 1976, the condemnor condemned a three-story office building in downtown Chester, owned by John Bosacco and L. J. Rendin (condemnees). After a hearing, a board of viewers awarded condemnees $120,000 in damages, plus $500 for counsel fees. The condemnor appealed to the lower court, pursuant to Section 515 of the Eminent Domain Code (Code), Act of June 22, 1964, Special Sess., P.L. 84, as amended, 26 P.S. § 1-515. A jury awarded the condemnees $205,000 in damages, and the lower court, by stipulation of the parties, added $500 for counsel fees. The condemnor then filed a motion for a new trial, which the lower court denied. This appeal followed.
The condemnor alleges numerous errors by the lower court: (1) refusing to permit one of the condemnor's valuation experts to testify; (2) refusing to permit the condemnor's other valuation expert to testify to the cost of repairs necessary to bring the property up to rental condition; (3) allowing testimony of an offer by a Donald Tonge to buy condemnees' property, their counteroffer to sell, and the amounts of the offer and counteroffer; (4) refusing to permit the condemnor's attorney to comment to the jury both about the condemnees' failure to call Tonge as a witness, and the condemnees' failure to produce their business records at the trial; (5) excluding testimony on the price the condemnees paid for the property when they purchased it; (6) refusing to find the verdict to be excessive; and (7) permitting one of the condemnees to testify on the reproduction cost of the property.
We reverse the lower court's denial of a new trial on the basis of the first two issues raised.
Condemnor's first issue is that the lower court erred in not permitting condemnor's valuation expert
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Klein to testify. The condemnor offered Klein both to present his own valuation opinion and to rebut condemnee Bosacco's reproduction cost valuation. However, at an in camera proceeding, the lower court ruled that Klein could not take the witness stand at all, because, in arriving at his valuation, Klein had considered the imminence of condemnation, contrary to the lower court's ...