HARRISBURG - A Pennsylvania coal company has won, in part, an appeal of a verdict denying it land rights in a long-standing property dispute.
On Nov. 8, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania ruled to affirm in part and reverse in part a lower court's decision in a case involving Consol Pennsylvania Coal Co. and landowners Jon and Patricia Carter. Consol had appealed an August 2017 trial court ruling, arguing the trial court committed an abuse of discretion.
In this latest filing, the courts ruled to remand the trial court's award for pre-judgment interest of $1 million, writing in part that, "the trial court did not err in denying Consol's request for judgment not withstanding verdict due to insufficient evidence of breach and causation, nor did it err by not including a jury interrogatory on causation."
The court also reversed the trial court's $1 million punitive damages claim from the Carters, ruling they should only receive "pre-judgment interest" on the funds from January 2009.
The case dates back to 2005 when Consol began action to quit title to a 1.875-acre tract of Pittsburgh coal and support rights owned by the Carters, court records indicate. The courts ruled that the "title to the coal was vested in Consol, however, court papers say, both parties entered into a settlement agreement before the courts final ruling."
Under the September 2006 agreement, the Carters agreed to render the coal and mining rights of the land to Consol for $1 million "if and only if the final decision on ownership of either the coal or the support estate … is in favor of the Carters," court records state. In October 2006, a judge ruled that Consol had rights to the property, effectively dismissing the settlement agreement.
The Carters appealed and in September 2008 the Superior Court reversed the trial court's decision lending favor to the Carters.