to the chain. While being pushed or lifted or hauled, the sides, tops and fenders of the automobiles were crushed and bent.
It is defendants' contention that this was the only way to remove the automobiles since many had some or all of their wheels removed and could not be towed and rolled onto the trailers. Peters and his wife testified, truthfully I believe, that in those cases where the wheels had been removed they had been placed either beside the vehicle or inside it where they could easily have been put back in place. Other vehicles had two or all wheels in place. I simply do not believe that with proper and readily available equipment the clean-up crew could not have moved the automobiles onto the flat bed trailers in the condition in which they were without causing them significant damage. Further, with the exercise of a moderate amount of care and skill, these experienced persons could have put the wheels back on where they had been removed and simply rolled the vehicles onto the truck.
It is quite obvious that the Township officials and the men they employed had no intention of exercising care. They had surveyed the premises well in advance; they brought with them on December 27th no equipment such as dollies or a tow truck which would have permitted the careful loading of the vehicles. They went about their work with an abandon typified by the manner in which the bull dozer was operated on this small parcel of land. The greater expense of using proper removal procedures was no excuse for not using them since Peters was required to pay for the operation in any event.
After the automobiles were loaded on the flat bed trailers they were taken to the town dump where they were left. Several months later they simply disappeared. The Township and its officials have offered no explanation as to what happened to them.
There is no question that just before the clean-up operation these eleven automobiles had value. Defendants' expert conceded as much although, not surprisingly, his opinion of value differed substantially from Peters'. Peters had no expert witness but I permitted him, as the owner, to testify as to his opinion of the value of his automobiles. He is very knowledgeable in the field of old cars and his opinion is not without weight. I must discount it to some extent because of his tendency to view all his possessions in an unrealistically favorable light.
Having heard the testimony concerning the condition and value of these automobiles and having examined the photographs of them in the condition they were in while being or after being subjected to the clean-up operations, I have arrived at an opinion of their value on December 27, 1972, just prior to their removal. This value includes the value of the parts, tools and components which were stored in or about the automobiles but not actually installed. The following chart lists the automobiles and sets forth Peters' opinion of their value, defendants' expert's opinion, and my conclusion:
Peters' Defendants' Finding of
Automobile Value Value Value
1. '62 Studebaker, 4 Dr.
Stn. Wag., red (P-27). $ 800 $ 150
2. '60 Studebaker, 4 Dr.
Stn. Wag., yellow (P-95). 900 125 250
3. '52 Studebaker, 2 Dr.
Sedan, green and white 1200 (no opinion) 100
4. '52 Studebaker 2 Dr.
Starlite Coupe, green
(P-99). 1400 20 300
5. '49 Studebaker Pickup
Truck, 3/4 ton, red
(P-101). 1000 175 400
6. '51 Kaiser 4 Dr.
Traveller, green (P-13). 2500 50 500
7. '53 Kaiser 4 Dr. Sedan,
red (P-58). 1350 200
8. '53 Kaiser 4 Dr. Sedan,
blue & black (P-106). 1350 150
9. '53 Volkswagen 2 Dr.
Beetle, white (P-10,
P-35). 3500 200 800
10. '58 Volkswagen 2 Dr.
Beetle, black 1000 (no opinion) 300
11. '41 Plymouth, 2 Dr.
Sedan, green (P-15). 1200 88 350
Totals $ 16,200 $ 658 $ 3500
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