Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of William E. Kristoff and Mary J. Kristoff v. Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, No. G.D. 76-8299.
Marion E. Popiel, for appellant.
William P. Bresnahan, Bresnahan & Caputo, for appellees.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Williams, Jr. and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.
[ 69 Pa. Commw. Page 622]
The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (Authority) has appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County awarding $19,581.25 as an attorney fee in an eminent domain case.
In April 1976, William E. Kristoff and Mary Jane Kristoff (Kristoffs), the appellees herein, filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County a petition for the appointment of a board of viewers under the Eminent Domain Code (Code).*fn1 The petition,
[ 69 Pa. Commw. Page 623]
filed pursuant to Section 502(e) of the Code,*fn2 asserted that the Authority had committed a de facto taking of 8 properties owned by the Kristoffs. The petition was granted by the court.*fn3
After viewing the properties involved and hearing testimony, the board of viewers on July 13, 1977 awarded the Kristoffs $40,000 in damages. In August 1977, the Authority appealed the viewers' award to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, and demanded a jury trial. On August 15, 1978, prior to trial of the appeal, the Authority paid the Kristoffs the sum of $31,500 as estimated just compensation.
By subsequent agreement of the parties, the demand for a jury trial was waived; and the case was heard by Judge Raymond L. Scheib. On September 9, 1980, Judge Scheib entered an order awarding the Kristoffs $40,000 in general damages and $4,200 for the reimbursement of appraisal fees. Additionally, the court awarded them $7,562.50 as delay compensation.
Also on September 9, 1980, Judge Scheib conducted a hearing relative to an application by the Kristoffs for an attorney fee under Section 609 of the Code.*fn4 In that proceeding the condemnees requested an attorney fee in the amount of $23,781.25, which equaled one-half of their total recovery exclusive of the reimbursed appraisal expenses. The basis for the claim of an attorney fee in that amount was the fact that, prior to litigation, ...