Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Adams County in the case of Bermudian Springs School District v. Lincoln Intermediate Unit No. 12, No. 79-S-8.
Richard C. Snelbaker, Snelbaker, McCaleb & Elicker, for appellant.
John W. Phillips, Pyle and Phillips, for appellee.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Rogers and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig. Judge Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case.
Lincoln Intermediate Unit (LIU) appeals a judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Adams County entered upon a jury verdict that awarded Bermudian Area School District (Bermudian) rent in an action of assumpsit, based upon an implied-in-fact contract for the 1977-78 school year.
LIU is an intermediate unit created under the Public School Code,*fn1 covering twenty-five school districts, including Bermudian. For several school years preceding the 1977-78 school year, LIU provided teaching services, in Bermudian's own classroom facilities, to meet various special educational needs of Bermudian children. In each of those years, LIU and
Bermudian entered into a "lease" stating the services to be performed and the amount of rent that LIU would pay to Bermudian for the use of the Bermudian facilities.
Before the 1977-78 school year, the LIU board of directors, upon a recommendation of its advisory council, deleted from its budget the item of "rent" to be paid to local districts, including Bermudian, whenever the LIU-taught classes consisted only of local district pupils.
At the start of the school year now in question, 1977-78, LIU teachers reported to Bermudian facilities and conducted classes as in previous years. When LIU sent a proposed "lease" stating that LIU would not be charged for Bermudian's classrooms, Bermudian refused to execute it. After LIU continued to refuse to pay rent, Bermudian initiated this action.
LIU, in its motion for a new trial, raised, along with other issues, the claim that the trial judge erred in his charge to the jury by instructing the jury that:
[I]f you believe [Bermudian's] testimony [indicating that in prior years, LIU would take possession of the classroom spaces before the school term began and sometime thereafter a formal written lease would be provided that would be signed and that would constitute the agreement of the parties] it would establish what we would call a condition by which the parties negotiated and conducted themselves. There is a presumption in the law that once a condition is established it is presumed to continue until it is shown otherwise. The burden ...