United States: Fox Rothschild Secures Victory For Penn View Park In 12-Year Overpayment Suit
Last Updated: June 23 2014

Benjamin J. Nevius, an attorney with Fox Rothschild LLP, recently led a Fox team that included John J. Miravich and Danielle Ryan in a victory on behalf of Penn View Park, L.P. in a matter involving a 12-year span of substantial overpayments for municipal water and sewer service.

Penn View operates a 120-unit mobile home park in Mt. Penn Borough, Berks County, PA, to which Mt. Penn Borough Municipal Authority provides water service and Antietam Valley Municipal Authority provides sewer service.

Penn View hired a plumber in 1988 to install a new water system at the park. Mt. Penn inspected and approved the installation work and charged Penn View for water and sewer services based upon the volume recorded by the master meter. For the next 12 years, Penn View paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for water and sewer service at the park.

Penn View installed individual meters at each residence in 2001, whereupon individual unit invoicing revealed a large discrepancy between unit usage and the amount recorded by the master meter. When plumbing consultants hired to check the water system for leaks could not account for the discrepancy, Penn View asked Mt. Penn to test the master meter. A technician sent by Mt. Penn determined a meter configuration issue resulted in the master meter recording significantly more water than actually consumed.

A lengthy battle then ensued between Penn View and the municipalities. After three years, Penn View filed suit for unjust enrichment.

In May 2012, after a three-day bench trial and seven months under advisement, the trial court awarded Penn View $287,000 on its unjust enrichment claim and partitioning damages on a pro rata basis between Mt. Penn and Antietam Valley. Antietam Valley appealed to the Commonwealth Court arguing, among other things, that it could not be unjustly enriched by overpayments because it is a revenue-neutral public entity that passes costs on directly to its ratepayers and the statute of limitations barred all or part of Penn View's claims.

Upon appeal, Judge Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter wrote a 13-page majority opinion affirming the trial court verdict and adopting many of the arguments set forth in Penn View's brief.

Antietam's Board recently voted to pay the verdict amount in full, with substantial post-judgment interest, rather than pursue the matter before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

An experienced civil litigator who practices in the firm's Exton office, Nevius represents individuals, families, physicians, lenders and businesses - from family-run operations to multinational corporations - in state and federal court. He handles a wide range of litigation matters, including commercial, shareholder, intellectual property, construction, contract, class action, collection and insurance-related disputes.

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