Judge enforces sale of North Side auto body shop to PennDOT

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The owner of a North Side auto repair shop must accept a settlement, pay his former attorney and vacate his North Side business in three weeks, an Allegheny County judge ruled today.

The order, written by Judge Michael E. McCarthy, means William Lieberth Sr. must find a new location for Allegheny Auto Body, the shop his father purchased in 1976 and which Mr. Lieberth, a 56-year-old West Deer resident, planned to pass on to his own son when he retired.

It clears the way for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which is working on a project to expand Route 28, to begin the construction phase that will require the East Ohio Street property currently occupied by Mr. Lieberth, the last property needed for the project.

Judge McCarthy's order enforced a settlement that representatives for PennDOT and Harvey Robins, a former attorney for Mr. Lieberth, said they agreed to in early August. That settlement included a $245,000 payment plus $3,500 in interest, as well as an extension of Mr. Lieberth's move-out date from early August to Oct. 1.

Mr. Lieberth, who fired Mr. Robins Aug. 22, has insisted that he did not agree to the settlement, but today, Judge McCarthy enforced it.

"There can be little real controversy in this matter that an enforceable agreement was reached and must be honored," Judge McCarthy wrote.

He also ordered that PennDOT pay directly to Mr. Robins a fee of $31,565, with the remainder of the settlement sent to Mr. Lieberth.

The court order comes at the end of a battle waged between Mr. Lieberth, whose building sits within 10 feet of Route 28, and PennDOT, which has long been working on a project to widen the road.

The agency first contacted Mr. Lieberth about acquiring his property in 2007, and in November 2011, PennDOT took ownership of the property by eminent domain.

Saying he had nowhere to move his business, Mr. Lieberth ignored PennDOT when the agency told him in July he had to vacate his property by Aug. 6.

Judge McCarthy said in his order that the Allegheny County sheriff's department will evict him if he does not comply by Oct. 1.

PennDOT has said that the construction phase requiring the property occupied by Mr. Lieberth will begin in late 2013 and be completed in 2014.

neigh_city - Transportation

Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com. or 412-263-1707. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/ First Published September 10, 2012 8:45 PM


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