Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Potter County in the case of Bernard E. Johnson and LaVerne Casbeer v. John Dec, Lloyd L. Dugan and Ruth Dugan, husband and wife, and H. Edward Carter and Joseph G. Slemmer, No. 152 May Term, 1970.
Priscilla M. Walrath, Walrath & Coolidge, with her, Perry S. Patterson, for appellants.
Anthony D. Miele, Miele & Callahan, for appellees.
Judges Williams, Jr., Doyle and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.
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John Dec and four co-parties have appealed from a judgment, entered by the Court of Common Pleas of Potter County, in an action to quiet title. The action was brought by Bernard E. Johnson and Laverne Casbeer, and concerned certain tracts of land which the instant appellants had purchased in 1966 for delinquent taxes. The trial court, by the judgment here on appeal, declared that the tax deeds issued to the appellants were invalid.
On September 12, 1966, four tracts of land recorded in the name of Edward C. Johnson were sold to the appellants by the Treasurer of Potter County, for delinquent taxes for the year 1964. Three of the tracts consisted of 75 acres each, and the other consisted of 12 acres. For all four tracts, the appellants paid a total of $141.93, which represented the sum of the 1964 taxes due on all the properties. The appellants also bore the cost of obtaining the bonds required by law. Edward C. Johnson, the former record owner, had died several years prior to the 1966 tax sale.
Bernard E. Johnson, one of the appellees herein, was an heir and successor in interest to Edward C. Johnson. On August 26, 1968, Bernard Johnson contacted
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the County Treasurer and inquired about redeeming the properties. A right of redemption existed by virtue of Section 9 of the Act of May 29, 1931, P.L. 280, as amended, 72 P.S. § 5971i. The County Treasurer advised him that, under the law, there was a two-year redemption period; and that the period would expire on September 12, 1968. The Treasurer also advised him that the total amount required for redemption was $163.22. Bernard Johnson paid that amount on August 26, 1968, and the Treasurer gave him a receipt which stated that redemption had been made "in full."
At some point after Bernard Johnson had made the aforementioned payment, but apparently before the expiration of the statutory redemption period, the County Treasurer learned that the amount paid by Johnson was insufficient. Further sums were due because the tax-sale purchasers had paid additional taxes -- for the years 1965, 1966 and 1967 -- and had incurred additional costs on their bonds. According to the Treasurer, he attempted to reach Bernard Johnson by telephone to inform him that more money was needed to effect the redemption, but was unsuccessful in that effort. Thereafter, by means of a letter posted on October 9, 1968, the Treasurer returned to Johnson the payment the latter had made on August 26, 1968.
It appears that on September 12, 1968, the date upon which the right of redemption expired, the County Treasurer had issued deeds to the tax-sale purchasers for the land they had bought. Those deeds were recorded on October 3, 1968, which was six days before the Treasurer sent Johnson the letter returning his money.
On April 11, 1969, Bernard Johnson, along with Laverne Casbeer, reappeared at the office of the County Treasurer. On ...