Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in the case of Samuel Cox, et al. v. City of Chester, No. 80-16614.
Mary Beth Seminario, with her, Margaret A. Lenzi, Dana M. Breslin and Ann S. Torregrossa, for appellants.
Leo A. Hackett, with him, Linda A. Cartisano, Francis P. Connors and James E. Del Bello, for appellees.
Judges Williams, Jr., Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig. Judge MacPhail dissents in this opinion.
[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 447]
Samuel Cox and Henrietta Adams*fn1 (named plaintiffs) appeal from an order by the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County denying their motion for class certification. We vacate that decision and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
We must decide if the common pleas court abused its discretion*fn2 by (1) declaring that the named plaintiffs
[ 76 Pa. Commw. Page 448]
are not members of the class they purport to represent and by (2) deciding that the interests of the named plaintiffs cannot be aligned squarely with the interests of absent class members.
The named plaintiffs filed a complaint on November 10, 1980, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief that would require the Delaware County Tax Claim Bureau to refrain from conducting an upset price sale scheduled for November 17, 1980, to notify taxpayers holding properties scheduled for tax sale of their alleged right to obtain a compromise of delinquent taxes under the Real Estate Tax Sale Law,*fn3 and to establish procedures and criteria for consideration of compromise applications.
By order of November 13, 1980, the court stayed the tax sale;*fn4 the parties then attempted to establish an out-of-court procedure to process tax compromise applications. As a consequence of that procedure, the bureau gave notice of an opportunity to submit compromise requests to all property owners faced with the impending sale, including the named plaintiffs.
Approximately forty-six property owners, including the plaintiffs, submitted tax compromise proposals. The taxing authorities approved seventeen plans for repayment, rejecting proposals submitted by Mr. Cox and Mrs. Adams. On September 28, 1981, the court approved a compromise of taxes for the seventeen properties.
Filing a motion for class certification in February of 1981, the named plaintiffs sought to represent a class ...