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HEILIG BROS. COMPANY v. KOHLER ET AL. (11/20/50)

November 20, 1950

HEILIG BROS. COMPANY, INC., APPELLANT,
v.
KOHLER ET AL.



Appeal, No. 14, May T., 1950, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of York County, Aug. T., 1948, in Equity, No. 1, in case of Heilig Bros. Company, Inc. v. Clarence E. Kohler et al. Decree reversed.

COUNSEL

Thomas Stokes, with him John A. Hoober and Peoper, Bodine, Stokers & Hamilton, for appellant.

M. Carton Dittman, Jr., with him George Hay Kain, Jr., Kain, Kain & Kain and Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, for Reliance Manufacturing Company, appellee.

Palmer C. Bortner, for York County Institution District, appellee.

Before Drew, C.j., Stern, Stearne, Jones, Ladner and Chidsey, JJ.

Author: Stearne

[ 366 Pa. Page 73]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ALLEN M. STEARNE

This is an appeal from a decree of the Court of Common Pleas of York County dismissing a bill in equity brought by a corporation, a taxpayer and unsuccessful bidder, to set aside a sale of land by the York County Institution District.

[ 366 Pa. Page 74]

The York County Poor House had been removed from a tract of land consisting of approximately 15 acres. The County Commissioners, acting for the District under the act, were empowered to sell the land at private or public sale without court approval: Act of June 24, 1937 P.L. 2017, 62 PS 2255. (The Act of April 21, 1949 P.L. 704 requires court approval of all sales).

In June 1947 the land was offered for sale at public auction.At that time the Commissioners were Messrs. Trout, McDowell and Eyster. The Chief Clerk was, and still is, William H. Reynolds. The succeeding Commissioners are the present appellees: Messrs. Kohler, Keller and Eckert. Mr. Reynolds acted as Chief Clerk of both sets of County Commissioners (who, under the Institution District Statute, act for the District) and had possession of the official records. Appellant, Heilig Bros. Co. Inc., were the high bidders at the sale. The bid of $25,000 was rejected and the property was withdrawn from sale. Appellant, through its agent, then made a bid of $30,000 to the Commissioners. This offer was also rejected. The bidder was told by the Commissioners to make a better offer. On July 7, 1947 appellant by letter to the District made an offer of $36,500 accompanied by a check for $7000 as down money. The Commissioners then decided to present five acres of the land to the City as a playground. The offer was withdrawn as appellant would not pay $36,500 for the rest, or 10 acres. Appellant's check for $7000 down money was then returned.

The proposed gift of 5 acres to the City was not consummated, because counsel advised that the District could not donate land or property. The Commissioners did not thereafter offer the property for sale. On April 7, 1948 (9 months after the written offer of $36,500), an inquiry was ...


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