Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller recently represented the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) in a one-day bench trial, followed by a three-day jury trial, in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. The case concerned a growing industry dispute regarding property and licensing rights concerning the placement of utility wires and related facilities across or along railroad corridors. Although SEPTA and the defendant utilities had been negotiating for years to resolve the parties’ dispute, the parties had been unable to resolve their issues, which forced SEPTA to file suit in 2007. When it became clear that the case would proceed to trial, SEPTA retained Hangley Aronchick as trial counsel. Firm shareholder Robert L. Ebby served as lead trial counsel.

Prior to trial, Hangley Aronchick successfully moved to exclude the utilities’ expert from testifying at trial and also obtained several important evidentiary rulings that limited the utilities’ claims and defenses. The one-day bench trial was further shortened after the Court sustained objections to a long-line of the utilities’ intended questioning, which largely reduced the utilities to making offers of proof for most of their witnesses. That afternoon, the Court issued an order granting SEPTA the full injunctive relief sought.

Hangley Aronchick returned to court the following day to begin trial on damages. After a three-day trial and a brief deliberation period, the jury returned a verdict in SEPTA’s favor for the full amount the transit authority sought – to the penny. In addition to resolving the specific rights at issue in this trial, the victory reaffirms SEPTA’s property rights and the appropriateness of its current rate schedule.