The opinion of the court was delivered by: KRAFT
In prior proceedings in these actions
, we determined that Park Trent and Gilberton were co-owners of a large silt bank located in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. We concluded, too, that the tax liens of the United States were valid against the portion of the silt owned by Park Trent.
An adjudication was entered accordingly, but we reserved for later trial and decision, the following unresolved issues: (1) the total quantity and value of the silt; (2) the respective quantities and values of the portions owned, respectively, by Gilberton and Park Trent; (3) the validity and extent of any claim by Gilberton, as a lien or otherwise, for past and partial use and occupancy of its land by that portion of the silt owned by Park Trent.
The very nature and composition of the silt precluded precise proof of its amount and value as well as precise proof of the respective portions of Gilberton and of Park Trent. However, sufficient proofs were adduced to enable the Court, in the exercise of its equitable jurisdiction, to make a fair, conscionable and reasonable disposition of the controversy.
Accordingly, from the evidence we make the following further
1. From December, 1954, until October, 1955, Park Trent operated the Park No. 3 breaker and deposited silt and culm on the bank in question, in a bona fide and well-founded belief that it had a legal right to do so.
2. Counties Coal Co. (Counties), which owned the land, and Rhoads Company, Inc. (Rhoads), the former operator of the Park No. 3 breaker from 1950 to 1954, were corporations controlled by Harradon Randall, who negotiated the sale of the Park No. 3 breaker to Park Trent with full knowledge that Park Trent intended to dump upon the same area the silt which would be an inevitable by-product of the breaker operation.
3. Counties, owner of the silt created and abandoned by Rhoads,
knew of the contemplated and actual deposit of silt by Park Trent, made no objection thereto and by its continuous silent acquiescence inferably assented to the commingling of Park Trent's silt with that of Counties.
4. The very nature of the customary method of discharge and deposit of silt from the breaker operation necessarily resulted in such a commingling as to make impossible ascertainment of the identity, quantity or quality of the respective deposits, as Counties knew.
5. Visual bulk estimates of the aggregate tonnage are unpersuasive, ranging from a low of 250,000
to a high of 700,000 tons; nor has the quality and value of the silt yet been suitably ascertained.
6. Extensive volumetric and quality tests of adequate borings, are essential to determine, with any degree of reasonable certainty, the quantum of marketable sizes of coal in the bank and as well as the ash content or burning quality of the silt.
7. Park Trent, by its own business records and by the reports published by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Mines, Anthracite Division, has fairly established that, during the period of its operation of the Park No. 3 breaker, it (a) had processed 489,000 tons of raw material through the breaker; (b) had sold approximately 148,000 tons of finished coal; and, (c) had ...