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GEORGE EDWARD SLATER AND MINNIE R. SLATER v. PENNSYLVANIA POWER COMPANY (03/21/89)

filed: March 21, 1989.

GEORGE EDWARD SLATER AND MINNIE R. SLATER
v.
PENNSYLVANIA POWER COMPANY, A CORPORATION, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division, No. GD83-09243

COUNSEL

George M. Weis, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

J. Bradley Kearns, Pittsburgh, for appellees.

Cavanaugh, Tamilia and Hester, JJ. Cavanaugh, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Tamilia

[ 383 Pa. Super. Page 511]

Appellant, Pennsylvania Power Company, appeals from a judgment of $108,712.20 entered in favor of appellees, dairy farmers George and Minnie Slater. The farmer and his wife brought a trespass action against the power company on June 2, 1983 for economic injuries suffered in 1981 and

[ 383 Pa. Super. Page 512]

    the first part of 1982. The jury awarded damages to appellees in the amount of $81,374.41 and delay damages of $27,340.79 were added.

The events leading up to the suit began early in 1981 when appellees noticed a decline in the milk production of their cows, health problems occurring in most of the cows and unusual behavior by them such as reluctance to enter the barn, not going to their stalls and kicking off the milking equipment. Appellees tried new feeding programs and veterinary treatment but to no avail. During mid-1981, however, appellees learned that stray electricity could be the cause of the problems they were experiencing. They called an electrician who tested areas in and around the barn with a voltmeter and obtained positive voltage readings. Appellees contacted appellant, providers of electricity to the area, who sent an employee to investigate. The employee also discovered the stray electricity, but instead suggested it was from appellees' electrical system and recommended changes be implemented at appellees' expense. The changes were made but the problems persisted so appellant's employee returned and recommended additional changes which likewise produced no improvement in the condition of the cows.

In January of 1982, appellees' electrician disconnected the ground wire which ran down appellant's transformer pole and the stray electricity disappeared. This wire had to be reconnected, however, as it was the property of appellant. At appellees' request, appellant isolated its ground wire from the neutral wire on appellees' farm in February, 1982, and since that time, appellees have experienced no further problems with their cows and their dairy production has returned to normal.

Appellant raises the following issues: 1) whether it is entitled to judgment n.o.v.; 2) whether a new trial should be granted due to a) the court's erroneous jury instruction, b) proof of damages being inadequate and/or c) error in allowing

[ 383 Pa. Super. Page 513]

    appellees' point for charge No. 5; and 3) whether delay damages should be ...


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