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BERNITSKY v. SCHUYLKILL COUNTY. (03/14/55)

March 14, 1955

BERNITSKY, APPELLANT,
v.
SCHUYLKILL COUNTY.



Appeal, No. 14, Jan. T., 1955, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County, July T., 1953, No. 12, in case of Joseph Bernitsky and George Stenulis v. The County of Schuylkill, The Township of Blythe and The School District of Blythe. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

David Berger, with him Isadore Krasno, for appellants.

H. G. Stutzman, with him John H. Thomas, for appellees.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Chidsey and Musmanno, JJ.

Author: Stearne

[ 381 Pa. Page 129]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ALLEN M. STEARNE

The question presented is whether or not appellants were correctly denied the right of redemption of a portion of a larger tract of land sold by the County Treasurer to the County Commissioners of Schuylkill County for the nonpayment of taxes. The court below denied the right of redemption under a construction of the Act of July 7, 1947, P.L. 1368, 72 P S § 5860 et seq.

Joseph Bernitsky and George Stenulis, the appellants, are individuals who purchased 2.1 acres of such surface and mineral land on March 16, 1953. Appellants' grantors had acquired title to the 2.1 acres about one month previously on February 11, 1953, from The Green Valley Coal Mining Company, Inc. While The Green Valley Coal Mining Company, Inc., was the owner of the larger tract called the Reuben Davis Warrantee tract located in Blythe Township, Schuylkill County,

[ 381 Pa. Page 130]

    of which this 2.1 acres is a part, the tract was sold on September 15, 1942, for delinquent taxes by the County Treasurer to the County Commissioners of Schuylkill County. Thus the title acquired by the appellants was limited to that title the former owner, the coal company, could convey, which amounted, in effect, to an alleged right of redemption. Following denials of appellants' repeated requests of the County Commissioners that they be permitted to redeem the 2.1 acres, this action was commenced against Schuylkill County, Blythe Township and the School District of Blythe. A rule was issued on the defendants to show cause why the appellants should not be allowed to redeem. Neither the Township nor the School District opposed the petition. The rule was dismissed, however. This appeal followed.

The controversy centers around the application of two Acts of Assembly, the Act of July 28, 1941, P.L. 535, 72 P S § 6105.1 et seq., and the Act of July 7, 1947, P.L. 1368, 72 P S § 5860.101 et seq. The appellants contend that since the land was sold under the Act of 1941, supra, the right of redemption is governed by that Act which, it is claimed, created a vested right of redemption thereunder when sold in accordance with its terms. The Act of 1941, supra, sec. 1, 72 PS § 6105.1 provides: "In all cases where heretofore or hereafter real property shall have been or shall be purchased at any tax sale by any political subdivision, any person who was or is entitled under existing law to redeem such property shall have such right of redemption so long as the title thereto remains in said political subdivision upon the payment of the amount due thereon by installments in the manner hereinafter provided, whether or not the period during which the right of redemption existed shall have expired." (Italics supplied) In order to expedite the collection

[ 381 Pa. Page 131]

    of delinquent real estate taxes, to retain the productivity of the real estate, and to maintain economic value, the General Assembly adopted the Real Estate Tax Sale Law of 1947, supra. In general, this Act provides that property already in the hands of the taxing authorities prior to its effective date, with certain exceptions not presently relevant, should be turned over to the Tax Claim Bureau prior to January 1, 1949, or if the redemption period had not expired by this date at the expiration thereof. All rights and title vested in the Bureau, as trustee. Section 702 of the Act of 1947, supra, 72 PS § 5860.702 provides: "The property turned over to it, [the Bureau] ... shall not be subject to redemption and until finally ...


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