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Troast v. Lascari

Decided: January 11, 1960.

PETER R. TROAST, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
ANTHONY LASCARI, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Goldmann, Conford and Freund. The opinion of the court was delivered by Freund, J.A.D.

Freund

Plaintiff Peter R. Troast instituted this action to recover the reasonable value of engineering and surveying services which he rendered at the request of defendant Anthony Lascari. Plaintiff valued his services at $1,650. Defendant denied having engaged the plaintiff for any purpose other than the making of one survey and three plot plans. The issues thus posed for trial before the Bergen County Court, Law Division, were the extent of the work plaintiff was requested to do and the reasonable value thereof. After a lengthy trial, the jury deliberated almost two hours before returning a unanimous verdict for plaintiff for $1,550. His motion for a new trial was denied, and defendant prosecutes this appeal.

Plaintiff, a professional engineer and land surveyor, testified that in October 1957 the defendant came to his home, said that he was in the process of buying land in the Borough of Little Ferry, and requested plaintiff to make a survey of the property and to "lay it out in various plots of land or

subdivisions." Defendant intended to subdivide the tract and erect one-family homes thereon. Plaintiff proceeded to do the work, which included surveying the tract, checking with the title searcher, preparing plot plans to be submitted to the municipality's planning board, drawing maps showing new streets and proposed new sewers and grades, and the field work of three men to locate the sewers and survey the tract. Although the zoning ordinance provided for 50' x 100' lots, defendant ordered plaintiff to lay out the tract in 50', 60', and 75' plots so that defendant could present the planning board with alternative subdivisions.

In January 1958 defendant instructed plaintiff to discontinue the work, because a change in zone from residential to industrial use was imminent. Although the change never materialized, defendant did not order plaintiff to continue with the work but engaged another engineer, Mr. Florio C. Job, Borough Engineer of Little Ferry and other municipalities. Plaintiff subsequently rendered a bill for $1,650.

Defendant brings this appeal, asserting that certain errors were committed at the trial resulting in a denial of substantial justice and therefore warranting a new trial. Defendant does not dispute being liable to plaintiff for some amount and does not contend that the verdict of $1,550 was excessive or the result of compromise.

It is first urged that the trial court permitted plaintiff's counsel to ask an improper question of the defendant on cross-examination. Defendant was asked:

"Q. Mr. Lascari, isn't it a fact that you went and engaged Mr. Job to do the sub-division work on this property because you were told by someone that unless you engaged Mr. Job, you would never get sub-division approval?

Mr. Palladino: I object to this question as being irrelevant and immaterial to the issues in this matter.

The Court: I will allow it.

A. No.

Q. It is not a fact? ...


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