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JOSEPH MARSHALL AND JOSEPHINE MARSHALL v. COUNTY SUSQUEHANNA ET AL. JOSEPH MARSHALL AND JOSEPHINE MARSHALL (12/02/76)

decided: December 2, 1976.

JOSEPH MARSHALL AND JOSEPHINE MARSHALL, HIS WIFE, ET AL.
v.
COUNTY OF SUSQUEHANNA ET AL. JOSEPH MARSHALL AND JOSEPHINE MARSHALL, HIS WIFE, ET AL., APPELLANTS



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Susquehanna County in case of Joseph Marshall and Josephine Marshall, his wife, as Taxpayers of the Borough of Susquehanna Depot, the Susquehanna Community School District, and the County of Susquehanna and Representing the Interest of all those similarly situated v. County of Susquehanna, Susquehanna Community School District, Borough of Susquehanna, Oakland, Lanesboro, Industrial Development Association (Solida, Inc.), No. 226 November Term, 1975.

COUNSEL

George E. Clark, Jr., with him Russell O'Malley, Jr., for appellants.

Ulric J. McHale and Raymond C. Davis, with them James A. Kelly; Paul T. Burke ; and Houghton & Davis, for appellees.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr. and Wilkinson, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.

Author: Bowman

[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 260]

Balancing the inherent authority of a court to control and dispose of litigation before it against a litigant's

[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 261]

    right to his day in court are the conflicting interests underlying this appeal. The significant facts by which these conflicting interests must be weighed are not in dispute and must tip the scales in favor of appellants' right to their day in court.

In a separate but related case in the court below docketed to No. 164 November Term, 1975, proceedings had been filed to seek court approval of a compromise tax sale to which appellants here filed objections. At a hearing on October 2, 1975, in that proceedings objectors were confronted with a contention that they lacked standing to raise certain issues. Thereupon objectors' counsel agreed to withdraw the objections and stated that an action in equity would be promptly filed raising substantially the same issues as asserted in the tax compromise sale proceedings. Such a complaint in equity was filed October 9, 1975, and docketed to No. 226 November Term, 1975. Defendants in the equity action promptly filed preliminary objections raising numerous issues including standing, adequacy of remedy at law, a demurrer and want of specificity.

From this point forward to the dismissal by the court below of the complaint in equity the records of these proceedings disclose critical deficiencies and errors which defeat the action taken by the court below and abort it of its authority to control and dispose of litigation before it.

On October 17, 1975, an order of court was entered to No. 164 November Term, 1975, approving the compromise tax sale thus effectively terminating the litigation to this term and number. However, inexplicably, on November 20, 1975, the Prothonotary issued a notice of hearing to be held November 25, 1975, at 10:00 a.m., which notice bears the caption and number of the tax compromise sale proceeding (No. 164 November Term, 1975) but the exit of the notice and the notice itself are entered of record to the equity proceedings

[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 262]

(No. 226 November Term, 1975). It is not difficult to predict what, in fact, thereafter occurred. Counsel for appellants-plaintiffs did not appear before the trial court on November 25, 1975, at 10:00 a.m., resulting in an order of court dated the same day sustaining the ...


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