Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County in case of Eugene Michael Chanda v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Police, No. 1981 -- 1676.
Nicholas Banda, for appellant.
Richard M. Rosenthal, Deputy Attorney General, with him, Mark E. Garber, Chief, Tort Litigation Unit, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for appellees.
Judges Williams, Jr. and Doyle, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.
[ 86 Pa. Commw. Page 533]
Petitioner Eugene Michael Chanda appeals from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County denying his motion for a new trial in his action in trespass against the Pennsylvania State Police.
Chanda's claim against the State Police stems from the seizure in June of 1978 of an automobile titled to Chanda. The automobile, a 1977 Cadillac which Chanda purchased in March of 1978 from a private individual he met at a hotel cocktail lounge, was seized pursuant to a search warrant issued upon information that the vehicle had been stolen from New York on December 1, 1977. According to the trial record, the State Police determined that a counterfeit vehicle identification had been affixed to the automobile. On
[ 86 Pa. Commw. Page 534]
August 15, 1978, the vehicle was released to a representative of the General Accident Group, an insurance carrier, which held the title bearing the original and correct vehicle identification number.
Two years after the automobile's seizure, Chanda brought an action pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 324*fn1 for the return of the vehicle. He was advised of the release of the automobile to the insurance company. He then filed the instant action in trespass alleging that the State Police negligently and recklessly transferred the automobile to another person, and did so without prior notice to Chanda. A jury trial resulted in a verdict in favor of the State Police. Chanda filed a motion for a new trial. The motion was far from explicit in reciting the reasons for requesting a new trial: it stated in boilerplate fashion that the verdict was against the evidence, was contrary to the weight of the evidence, and contrary to the law. The trial court was commensurately succinct in responding to the motion. The opinion and order, stated:
A Motion for New Trial may be granted only where there exists a manifest abuse of discretion or a clear error of law. . . .
[ 86 Pa. Commw. Page 535]
. . . Plaintiff's Motion for a New Trial is denied. ...