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NORTH SIDE LAUNDRY COMPANY v. ALLEGHENY COUNTY BOARD PROPERTY ASSESSMENT (03/19/51)

March 19, 1951

NORTH SIDE LAUNDRY COMPANY, APPELLANT,
v.
ALLEGHENY COUNTY BOARD OF PROPERTY ASSESSMENT, APPEALS AND REVIEW



Appeal, No. 59, March T., 1951, from order of Superior Court, April T., 1950, No. 168, affirming order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Oct. T., 1948, No. 957, in case of North Side Laundry Company v. Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review, Allegheny County. Order affirmed; reargument refused April 9, 1951.

COUNSEL

Mahlon E. Lewis, with him Frank W. Ittel, John W. Wishart, Loyal H. Gregg, and Gwilym A. Price, Jr., for appellant.

Leonard Boreman, Assistant County Solicitor, with him Nathaniel K. Beck, County Solicitor, for appellee.

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

Author: Drew

[ 366 Pa. Page 637]

OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE DREW

North Side Laundry Company, plaintiff, here questions the constitutionality of the action of the

[ 366 Pa. Page 638]

Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County, in including in the triennial assessment of plaintiff's realty for the years 1948, 1949 and 1950 certain equipment used in the plant. The learned court below and the Superior Court upheld the action of the Board on the authority of our decision in United Laund. v. Board of Prop. Assess., 359 Pa. 195, 58 A.2d 833. Because of the importance of the questions involved, the Superior Court certified the case to this Court under the Act of June 24, 1895, P.L. 212, § 10, for our consideration and decision.

In the United Laundries case, supra, this plaintiff and four other laundries contended that, under the Act of May 22, 1933, P.L. 853, § 201 as amended*fn1, their equipment, consisting of washers, dryers, tumblers, pressers, ironers, etc., was improperly included as a part of the real estate in the triennial assessment made by the Board for the years 1945, 1946, and 1947. We there held that a commercial laundry was an industrial plant within the meaning of the "assembled industrial plant doctrine" and the equipment was, therefore, a part of the real estate subject to assessment under the Act of 1933. In assessing plaintiff's real estate for the years 1948, 1949 and 1950 the Board, following our decision in that case, again included the laundry equipment in the assessment and plaintiff again appealed, this time basing its argument on the rule laid down in Sunday Lake Iron Co. v. Wakefield, 247 U.S. 350, 352, that "intentional systematic undervaluation by state officials of other taxable property in the same class

[ 366 Pa. Page 639]

    contravenes the constitutional right of one taxed upon the full value of his property." See also Iowa-Des Moines Bank v. Bennett, 284 U.S. 239; Sioux City Bridge Co. v. Dakota County, Neb., 260 U.S. 441. The soundness of that rule is patent but plaintiff has failed completely to bring itself within the scope of it.

At the hearing plaintiff offered to prove that the equipment of other "industries", such as theaters, cab companies, service stations, automobile repair companies, restaurants, stores, office buildings, hotels, beauty shops, banks, and self-service laundries, were not included in their assessment and that they, as well as plaintiff, are service industries. From that plaintiff concludes that there is a systematic undervaluation of other taxable property in violation of the constitutional guarantees ...


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