United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
UGI SUNBURY, LLC, Plaintiff.
A PERMANENT EASEMENT FOR 0.5032 ACRES, AND TEMPORARY CONSTRUCTION AND ACCESS EASEMENT FOR 1.0364 ACRES IN EAST CHILLISQUAQUE TOWNSHIP, NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA TAX PARCEL NO. 022-00-022-084, JOSEPH F. AGOGLIA, JR., THE NORTHUMBERLAND NATIONAL BANK, and ALL UNKNOWN OWNERS, Defendants.
MATTHEW W. BRANN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
above-captioned matter is scheduled for a bench trial in this
Court beginning Monday, May 14, 2018. The parties have filed
various motions in limine and have submitted briefing on
those motions and other issues.
Motion in Limine to Exclude the Testimony of Defendant's
moved to exclude the testimony of Defendant's expert
witness pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702, arguing
that the expert's report is “riddled with errors of
material fact” and is “not the product of
reliable principles and methods.” This Court will deny
UGI's motion. Both the Supreme Court of the United States
and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
have expounded on Rule 702's “reliability”
and “fit” requirements. This Court, however, is
granted wide discretion when deciding whether those
requirements have been met. Because the upcoming trial is a
bench-not jury-trial, because there is a “strong
preference for admission” of expert testimony, and because
this Court believes that “hearing the expert's
testimony and assessing its flaws [is] an important part of
assessing what conclusion [is] correct”,  this Court will
admit the testimony of Defendant's expert. UGI may, of
course, present its own expert and may also vigorously cross
examine Defendant's expert vis-à-vis any perceived
flaws or inconsistencies in his methodology. This Court, as
finder of fact, will carefully consider the soundness of both
experts' reasoning and their opinions' factual basis,
and will attentively evaluate the experts' credibility.
Motion in Limine to Exclude the Testimony of UGI's Expert
has likewise moved to exclude the testimony of UGI's
expert witness, also arguing that the expert's report
contains legal and factual errors. For the reasons discussed
above, that motion will be denied, but thorough
cross-examination will be permitted.
Motion to Use Pennsylvania Law
has moved this Court to use Pennsylvania law when determining
the amount of “just compensation” owed by UGI.
in this District have previously concluded that federal-not
state- law applies in condemnation actions brought pursuant
to the Natural Gas Act.Other courts have come to the opposition
conclusion. Recently, however, the Honorable A.
Richard Caputo of this Court has certified this question for
interlocutory appeal to the Third Circuit.
and Pennsylvania law both define “just
compensation” as the difference between a
property's pre-taking and post-taking
value. Pennsylvania eminent domain law, however,
allows a condemnee to collect several forms of damages not
available under federal law. In its Proposed Findings of Fact
and Conclusions of Law, Defendant has signaled an intent to
seek damages in the form of “professional fees, ”
as provided for under Pennsylvania,  but not federal, law. As
was discussed at the pretrial conference on April 13, 2018,
however, Defendant has not pled those damages in its answer,
and UGI argues that those damages should, therefore, not be
recoverable. This Court consequently ordered the
parties to submit briefs on that issue, which are due on
April 27, 2018.
light of the pending resolution of this issue by the Third
Circuit, a ruling on this motion will be stayed. If this
Court, however, decides that unpled damages are unavailable
to Defendant-an issue on which this Court currently expresses
no opinion-this motion will be denied as moot.
Motion to Exclude UGI's Lay Witnesses
has moved to exclude UGI's lay witnesses on the basis of
relevance. This motion will be denied, but Defendant may