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GRACE BUILDING CO. v. CLOUSER (04/05/72)

decided: April 5, 1972.

GRACE BUILDING CO., INC.
v.
CLOUSER, ET UX.



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County in case of In Re: Upset Sale, Tax Claim Bureau of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Held September 9, 1968, No. 68-15521, Upset Sale 18-1.

COUNSEL

Alfred O. Breinig, Jr., for appellant.

C. Howard Harry, Jr., for appellees.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 111]

This is an appeal from an Opinion and Order dated August 20, 1971, of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County granting the prayer of a petition of the Montgomery County Tax Claim Bureau (Bureau) to invalidate an upset price tax sale and declaring said sale null and void.

On April 5, 1965, Donald B. Clouser and Dorothy L. Readinger (appellees) purchased the real estate in question for the sum of $7,500. At the time of the purchase, the appellees were unmarried and resided at 3600 Friedensburg Road, Reading, Pennsylvania (Reading address). The appellees married on August 21, 1965, and continued to live at the Reading address until some time in September 1965, whereupon they moved to 130 Jackson Road, Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania (Gilbertsville address). Prior to the change of residence, they notified the Reading Post Office, and in April of 1966 personally notified the local township tax collector of their change of address. The appellees did not notify any other governmental office of their change of address. The appellees continuously resided at the Gilbertsville address until September 1969, at which time they moved to another address in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. The

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 112]

    appellees paid their real estate taxes for the year 1965 in April of 1966. However, they neglected to pay the real estate taxes due for the years 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969. The record is quite clear that Mr. Clouser was hospitalized for a "nervous breakdown" and was incapacitated during portions of 1968 and 1969, which explains to some degree the reason for which the real estate taxes were overlooked and went unpaid.

In the meantime, the Tax Claim Bureau of the County properly mailed a notice of delinquency on June 1, 1967, to the Reading address, the only address known to the Bureau. The Reading Post Office crossed out the Reading address, readdressed the envelope using the Gilbertsville address, and forwarded it thereto. The Gilbertsville Post Office, having attempted, but failing, to deliver the notice to the appellees at their Gilbertsville address, on June 3 and June 9, 1967, the notice went unclaimed, and as it appears, the Gilbertsville address was crossed out by a postal clerk and returned to the Bureau as unclaimed. The Tax Claim Bureau made no note on its records of any change of address. On June 6, 1968, a second notice of delinquency was sent to the appellees at the Reading address, and this notice was returned to the Bureau, marked "unknown." The Bureau made no attempt to notify the appellees in 1968 at the Gilbertsville address. On July 15, 1968, the Tax Claim Bureau sent to the appellees at their Reading address a notice of a tax lien sale to be held on September 9, 1968. The Reading Post Office returned the notice to the Bureau marked "moved, left no address," "moved, not forwardable," "address unknown." The Bureau did not attempt to serve the appellees at the Gilbertsville address.

All of these notices were properly sent to the appellees in their unmarried names, inasmuch as the Bureau had no notice of any name change. The record is very

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 113]

    clear that the appellees had no actual knowledge of the tax sale notice or of the impending sale of the realty. On September 9, 1968, the Grace Building Company purchased the property for the upset sale price of $359.06, and ...


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