Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Warren County, Nov. T., 1970, No. 54, in case of The Pennsylvania Bank and Trust Company, Youngsville Branch, v. Maurice R. Dickey.
Edward G. Petrillo, for appellant.
John E. Eberly, with him Harper, Clinger & Eberly, for appellee.
Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Watkins, P. J.
[ 232 Pa. Super. Page 226]
This is an appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Warren County, Civil Division, involving the interpretation of a complicated oil lease agreement.
On May 29, 1963, Elsie Davis was the owner in fee of 58 1/2 acres of seated land in Brokenstraw Township, Warren County, Pennsylvania. On that date she entered into an oil lease agreement with Howard G. Donaldson and Carl Burgchardt. Under the terms of the agreement, more fully discussed below, she would receive 1/8 part of all oil produced and saved from the leased premises in return for allowing the lessees to drill for oil and gas. Donaldson and Burgchardt commenced
[ 232 Pa. Super. Page 227]
to work the premises under the terms of the lease. Later they assigned various fractional interests to other parties. One such agreement was made to a Patrick E. Crotty. Crotty later assigned his interest to Robert E. Clark and Oscar W. Hogsett.
In 1965, Crotty's interest was assessed as realty by the tax authorities under the Act of May 29, 1931, P. L. 280, as amended, 72 P.S. § 5971, et seq., which act related to the taxation and sale of seated lands. No one paid the 1965 taxes and on August 7, 1967, Maurice Dickey, the appellee in this case, successfully bid for the interest at a County Treasurer's sale. He received a Treasurer's tax deed purporting to convey to him, as realty, Crotty's interest in the oil production. This deed was recorded.
Subsequently, Clark and Hogsett brought suit by an action to quiet title claiming that the entire proceedings were error and that they retained their interests as sold to them by Crotty. Their interests had been transferred to The Pennsylvania Bank and Trust Company, which substituted itself as plaintiff in the action to quiet title.
The matter proceeded to trial and on November 15, 1973, the court below decided that there was a severance under the lease of Elsie Davis with a grant in fee of the said minerals to the original lessees. The court held that the lease created a severance of the minerals from the surface which resulted in a separate taxable estate in the oil produced which could, in turn, be taxable and taxed under the aforesaid statute. Thus, the actions of the taxing authority were legal and proper, the tax sale was valid, and Dickey was the rightful owner of the minerals in question, pursuant to his Treasurer's deed. The appellant excepted ...