No. 495 Pittsburgh, 1980, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division-Law, of Westmoreland County, 1977, No. 10138
Robert J. Milie, Greensburg, for appellants.
George M. Lynch, Latrobe, for appellee.
Spaeth, Shertz and Montgomery, JJ.
[ 291 Pa. Super. Page 376]
The instant appeal arises from an order of the lower court, sitting en banc, which sustained the exceptions filed by the Defendant-Appellees and dismissed the Plaintiff-Appellants' Complaint. The case involves an action to quiet title commenced by the Plaintiff-Appellants, who purchased property at a Treasurer's sale. The Defendant-Appellees are the heirs of the deceased former owner of the property.
The record shows that on May 8, 1926, Fred P. Underwood purchased a tract of land situated in Derry Township, Westmoreland County, from the Baum Coal Company. The property consisted of some 35 1/5 acres. On August 8, 1947,
[ 291 Pa. Super. Page 377]
Fred P. Underwood died testate, and by the residuary clause in his will the property in question passed to his three sons, James M. Underwood, Joseph R. Underwood and Thomas P. Underwood. They, or their respective heirs, are the real Appellees.
Taxes assessed against the property for the tax years 1953 and 1954 were not paid, and on August 6, 1956 the County Treasurer sold the property to the Westmoreland County Commissioners. No right of redemption was ever exercised. Notice of the proposed Treasurer's sale was sent to "Fred P. Underwood, Latrobe, Pennsylvania," the then-deceased owner, but the letter containing the notice was returned marked as "unclaimed". No notice was ever given by the Treasurer to the Appellees, the then true owners of the property, as required by the County Return Act of 1931,*fn1 nor was any notice of the sale posted on the property itself by the Treasurer prior to the sale, an alternative method of service provided in the same Act. The Treasurer did give newspaper notice, which is also required under the aforementioned statute, that the property would be sold. Notice was given in the County Law Journal and in two newspapers of general circulation that two properties belonging to Fred P. Underwood would be sold. Such newspaper notices described the properties as: "12A Freeport Coal" and "34 1/5 A." of land in Derry Township. No other descriptions of the property were given.
In 1975 the Appellants purchased the subject property from the Westmoreland County Commissioners. Subsequently they filed the instant action to quiet title against Fred P. Underwood, his unknown heirs, assigns or devisees.
The lower court initially found the sale of the land to the Appellants to be valid. After the Appellees filed exceptions, however, the lower court, sitting en banc, sustained the Appellees' exceptions and dismissed the Appellants' ...