No. 201 March Term, 1978, Appeal from Order of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania dated September 1, 1978, at 322 C.D. 1977, reversing the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County, Civil Action-Law at No. 499 March Term, 1974, No. 202 March Term, 1978, Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania dated September 1, 1978 at 323 C.D. 1977, reversing the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County, Civil Action-Law, at No. 500 March Term, 1974.
Ralph K. Barclay, Jr., William M. Radcliffe, Coldren & Coldren, Uniontown, for appellants.
Vincent J. Roskovensky, II, Uniontown, for appellees.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino, Larsen and Flaherty, JJ. Roberts, J., filed a concurring and dissenting opinion. Nix, J., filed a concurring and dissenting opinion. Manderino, J., filed a concurring and dissenting opinion.
This appeal involves two actions to quiet title brought by appellants, Charles and Dolores Teslovich, to establish title to a 29-acre parcel of land purchased from the Fayette County Tax Claim Bureau in 1971. As the actions involve identical questions of law and fact, they were consolidated for trial and appeal.
Rosetta A. Shroyer, the appellee, and her now deceased husband, Garfield Shroyer, resided together on a 15-acre tract of land at Mill Run in Fayette County. The Shroyers owned this parcel and the 29-acre tract of land adjoining it as tenants by the entireties.
In 1968, as a result of marital difficulties, Mrs. Shroyer left the home she shared with her husband and took up a separate residence. The taxes on the two parcels of land became delinquent and, in June of 1970, Mrs. Shroyer went to the Fayette County Tax Claim Bureau to begin payment on the delinquency and notify the Bureau of her change of address to Melcroft, Pennsylvania. Several months later, Mrs. Shroyer moved to Indianhead, Pennsylvania, leaving her forwarding address with the Melcroft Post Office. She subsequently sent a money order to the Fayette County Tax
Claim Bureau with instructions to apply the proceeds to the delinquency. The Bureau, apparently through oversight, applied the money only to the deficiency on the 15-acre parcel and, since the payment made by Mrs. Shroyer exceeded this deficiency, the Bureau sent her an overpayment refund along with the receipt for the monies that had been applied to the deficiency.
Approximately two months later, the Fayette County Tax Claim Bureau mailed a notice of their intention to sell the 29-acre parcel for delinquent taxes to "Garfield and Rosetta Shroyer, Melcroft, Pennsylvania" by registered mail, personal addressee only return receipt requested. The Melcroft postal authorities forwarded this notice to Garfield Shroyer, the first named addressee on the envelope, at the Mill Run address. Mr. Shroyer, who could neither read nor write, received the notice on June 18, 1971 and placed his mark (an "X") on the return receipt. Mr. Shroyer had not communicated with his wife since their separation in 1968, and he did not forward the notice to her or, assuming he learned its contents and import, in any way inform her of the same.
The tax sale was held on October 14, 1971 and, as a result thereof, the Fayette County Tax Claim Bureau deeded the 29-acre tract to appellants, Charles and Dolores Teslovich, in February of 1972. Approximately two years later, the appellants commenced the instant actions to quiet title. Mrs. Shroyer received notice of these actions and, for the first time, learned of the tax sale that had taken place in 1971. She answered the appellants' complaints alleging that the Tax Claim Bureau had not given her proper notice of the tax sale and that it was therefore invalid. The Common Pleas Court of Fayette County held that the notice was sufficient and entered an order quieting title and barring Mrs. Shroyer from asserting any claim or interest in the real estate. After her exceptions to this order were dismissed by the court en ...