On appeal from the Essex County Circuit Court.
For the appellant, Merritt Lane.
For the respondent, J. Henry Harrison.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
CAMPBELL, J. The Essex County Park Commission undertook to take, by eminent domain, a tract of land of the appellant. The condemnation commissioners awarded the owner $140,000. The owner appealed and the award by a jury in the Circuit Court upon such appeal was the sum of $111,400.30. From the judgment entered thereon the owner appeals to this court, presenting several grounds of appeal which, for the most part, urge error in refusing or permitting certain witnesses to testify as real estate experts to the value of the lands taken.
We think there was no error in the rulings so complained of.
The question of whether a witness, called as an expert, is qualified to give expert testimony is one to be primarily passed upon by the trial court, whose decision will not be reversed if there is any evidence to support it, or unless it is clearly shown to be erroneous in matter of law. Ringwood Co. v. North Jersey District Water Supply Commission, 105 N.J.L. 165. In re Morris and Cummings Dredging Co., 96 N.J.L. 248; Ross v. Palisades Interstate Park, 90 Id. 461; Brown v. Short Line Railroad Co., 76 Id. 795; 22 C.J. 526, § 610, &c.
It is urged, however, that the trial court erred as a matter of law in restricting the special knowledge of the witness to personal and actual participation in other sales of comparable property or personal knowledge of such other sales rather than to knowledge obtained from an examination of the records of such sales and information, more or less, based upon hearsay.
We have not been directed to, nor have we found, any adjudication in this state directly upon this question.
In Ross v. Palisades Interstate Park, &c., supra, the language is: "* * * the most material circumstance forming this qualification of expert witnesses as to land values consists of the fact, either that they have themselves made sales or purchases of other similar lands in the neighborhood of the land in question within recent periods or that they have knowledge of such sales by others."
Whenever the question has arisen this appears to be the language employed.
The trial court defined this knowledge of sales by others as follows: "* * * and that means personal knowledge. It does not mean hearsay knowledge, what somebody else has told them or what they have learned through an examination of the consideration given in the records of deeds of conveyance, because deeds may incorrectly state the ...