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State Highway Commissioner v. Union Paving Co.

Decided: November 17, 1954.

STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSIONER OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
UNION PAVING COMPANY, A CORPORATION OF DELAWARE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Eastwood, Goldmann and Schettino. The opinion of the court was delivered by Eastwood, S.j.a.d.

Eastwood

In this condemnation case the New Jersey State Highway Commissioner condemned a portion of the industrial lands owned by the Union Paving Company. The State appealed from an award of the commissioners in the amount of $51,420, and the matter was heard de novo by the Superior Court, Law Division, sitting without a jury, and that court returned an award of $32,457.82, plus interest.

The defendant company moved for an order making additional factual findings, for an amendment of the judgment or a new trial, and to tax costs against the State Highway Commissioner, which motions were denied. The defendant company appeals from the judgment entered.

The defendant contends that the trial court made insufficient factual findings and failed to state separately its conclusions of law thereon pursuant to R.R. 4:53-1, and erred in refusing to allow costs against the Commissioner in its favor.

The alleged deficiencies in the findings are: (1) over generalization; (2) no itemized breakdown as to the various elements of damage; and (3) the findings are inconsistent with the award which is asserted to be inadequate.

The appellant's contention that the trial court erred in failing to itemize the various elements of damage is without merit. In the case of Hutches v. Hohokus , 82 N.J.L. 140 (Sup. Ct. 1911), the court denied error in the failure to break down the elements in the award, stating at page 143:

"This has been held not to be essential. The award of the commissioners was in compliance with the settled law of this state. Pennsylvania Railroad Co. v. National Docks Co. , 28 Vroom 86; Bright v. Platt , 5 Stew. Eq. 362; Zimmerman v. Hudson & M.R.R. Co. , 47 Id. 251."

Cf. Herr v. Board of Education , 82 N.J.L. 610 (E. & A. 1912).

Rule 4:53-1 generally follows Rule 52 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C.A. , and under authority of Rule 71 A is now applicable to condemnation cases. The

Advisory Committee Report (S.F.R.D. 47), found no need for over-elaboration of detail or particularization of facts; that a judge need only make brief, definite, pertinent findings on the contested matters. As stated by the court in Penmac Corporation v. Esterbrook Steel Pen Mfg. Co. , 27 F. Supp. 86 (D.C.S.D.N.Y. 1939), reversed on other grounds, 108 F.2d 695 (2 d Cir. 1940), the findings required by the rule need only be findings of essential facts and need not be findings on every aspect of the evidence. That matter was a patent infringement case and the court stated that:

"It might be sufficient for me herein to say 'I find the claims of this patent are valid,' and 'I find that they have been infringed,' but I think it is appropriate that there should be a little more flesh and blood put into the findings * * *." 27 F. Supp. 86, 93.

In United States v. Certain Land, etc. , 109 F. Supp. 618, 619 (D.C.E.D. Mo. 1952), the only facts apparently found were as to the value of the various parcels of land prior to the taking and the value thereafter, the difference in values being the damages and the amount ...


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