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CONDEMNATION BY COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (08/03/84)

decided: August 3, 1984.

IN RE: CONDEMNATION BY THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, OF RIGHT OF WAY FOR LEGISLATIVE ROUTE 1012, SECTION A03, A LIMITED ACCESS HIGHWAY IN STERLING TOWNSHIP, WAYNE COUNTY. CHARLES J. SEPKO, APPELLANT


Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Wayne County, in case of Charles J. Sepko v. Department of Transportation, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. 8 June Term, 1972.

COUNSEL

Peter J. Comerota, with him, Harry Smith, for appellant.

John T. Clary, Jr., Assistant Counsel, with him, Spencer A. Manthorpe, Chief Counsel, and Jay C. Waldman, General Counsel, for appellee.

Judges MacPhail, Colins and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 360]

Charles J. Sepko (Appellant) appeals a Wayne County Court of Common Pleas order sustaining the preliminary objections of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) to a petition for the

[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 361]

    appointment of viewers in a condemnation hearing. We affirm.

Appellant owned certain property which was condemned under the Pennsylvania Eminent Domain Code*fn1 for construction of Interstate Route 84. In July, 1972 Appellant received estimated just compensation of $13,000. Appellant filed a request for the appointment of viewers on February 3, 1983. DOT filed preliminary objections alleging that Appellant's petition for viewers was barred by the statute of limitations. In his answer to DOT's preliminary objections, Appellant asserted that DOT was equitably estopped from claiming that the statute of limitations barred his request.

The common pleas court granted DOT's preliminary objections because a six-year limitation*fn2 barred Appellant's petition for appointment of viewers effective on or about August 7, 1978, and held that DOT was not equitably estopped from invoking this six-year limitation. The only issue before us is whether the common pleas court abused its discretion or committed an error of law*fn3 when it did not apply the doctrine of estoppel to extend the statute of limitations.

Appellant asserts that in 1974 he was contacted by a negotiator for DOT. Appellant was ill at the time and had his niece inform the negotiator that Appellant

[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 362]

    was without an attorney and that he wanted DOT to petition for the appointment of viewers because his compensation was indequate. Appellant now argues that since he never received a response regarding that request, he was justified in assuming that DOT had properly petitioned for the appointment of viewers. This fact, he says, caused him to ...


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