No. 00384 HBG 82, Appeal from the Order of October 29, 1982 in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, Civil Division, at No. 3760.
Randolph M. Baker, Harrisburg, for appellants.
William A. Fetterhoff, Harrisburg, for appellees.
Wickersham, Olszewski and Hoffman, JJ.
[ 334 Pa. Super. Page 625]
Appellants contend that (1) appellees' claim is barred by the doctrine of laches, (2) the lower court did not apply the
[ 334 Pa. Super. Page 626]
appropriate legal standard when it found appellants liable for damage to appellees' property, and (3) the lower court erred in making certain aspects of the damage award. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the order of the court below.
Appellants, C.P. Centers and Host Hills Associates, are successors-in-interest to the Chambers Ridge apartment development in Swatara Township, Dauphin County. In 1971, Chambers Hills, a limited partnership, began developing the apartment complex in two sections. The first section was completed in 1972, but the second section was abandoned, unfinished, two years later. C.P. Centers took possession of the second section as mortgagee and completed it in 1976. Host Hills Associates purchased the first section from the original owner and the second section from C.P. Centers upon its completion. A line of tennis courts was added in 1980. This apartment complex is situated at a higher elevation than appellees' property.
In October, 1978, appellees, the Millers and the Hoffmans, brought a complaint in law and equity alleging that the development of appellants' property had increased surface water runoff, resulting in erosion, silt deposits and flooding, and depleted the water table causing damage to a spring-fed pond on the Hoffmans' property. On May 14, 1982, the lower court entered a decree nisi enjoining appellants from discharging unreasonable quantities of surface waters and silt onto appellees' lands, awarding damages to appellees for silt removal and erosion repair, and compensating the Hoffmans for the installation of a well and pump to replenish their pond in the event that remedial measures did not re-establish the flow of the underground spring within a reasonable time. Exceptions to the decree nisi were denied and a final order was entered on October 29, 1982. This appeal followed.
[ 334 Pa. Super. Page 627]
Appellants contend first that appellees' cause of action is barred by the doctrine of laches. In Wilson v. King Page 627} of Prussia Enterprises, Inc., 422 Pa. 128, 221 A.2d 123 (1966) our Supreme Court stated:
The application of the equitable doctrine of laches does not depend upon the fact that a certain definite time has elapsed since the cause of action accrued, but whether, under the circumstances of the particular case, the complaining party is guilty of a want of due diligence in failing to institute his action to another's prejudice. The ...