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GEORGE W. ROSSI v. INDIANA COUNTY TAX CLAIM BUREAU ET AL. (06/21/85)

decided: June 21, 1985.

GEORGE W. ROSSI, WILLIAM B. KANIA AND JACK STANLEY, APPELLANTS
v.
INDIANA COUNTY TAX CLAIM BUREAU ET AL., APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Indiana County in the case of George W. Rossi, William B. Kania, and Jack Stanley v. Indiana County Tax Claim Bureau, Edward Mackey, Thomas Boske, Casmer Yanity and Gilbert Zilner; George W. Rossi, William B. Kania, and Jack Stanley v. Indiana County Tax Claim Bureau, B. E. Wynkoop and Christine Wynkoop, No. 2357 C.D. 1981, Tax Sale of Properties known as Parcels Nos. 33-13-101 and 33-12-118, Pine Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania.

COUNSEL

William J. Martin, for appellants.

John P. Merlo, for appellees.

Judges Craig and Doyle and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.

Author: Doyle

[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 256]

George W. Rossi, William B. Kania, and Jack Stanley (Appellants) appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Indiana County which dismissed Appellants' exceptions and objections to a tax claim sale of two parcels of property located in Pine Township.

The properties in question were purchased in 1978 by George W. Rossi and Robert A. Hoover.*fn1 The certificates of residence on both deeds gave a single address in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the residence for the grantees. No taxes were paid in 1979 or 1980, and in 1981, tax sale proceedings were instituted by the Indiana County Tax Claim Bureau (Bureau). The Bureau inquired of the county assessment office and

[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 257]

    the Pine Township tax collector and learned through these sources that the address on the deeds had been changed to an address in Clearwater, Florida. Personal notice was sent out twice to both Mr. Rossi and Mr. Hoover individually at the Florida address. Both notices to Mr. Rossi were returned undelivered.*fn2 The properties were sold at a tax sale on September 14, 1981 to the six individuals who, together with the Bureau, are named as Appellees herein.*fn3

[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 258]

Appellants filed exceptions and objections to the sale, contending that the notices to Mr. Rossi were defective because they had been sent to an incorrect address. According to Mr. Rossi's testimony before the trial court, since 1972 he had continuously maintained an office at the Pennsylvania address, and he was totally unfamiliar with the Florida address. He stated that he had never received any notices of tax delinquency and had mistakenly assumed that Mr. Hoover had paid the property taxes. The trial court concluded that the Bureau had complied fully with Section 602(e) of the Real Estate Tax Sale Law (Law), Act of July 7, 1947, P.L. 1368, as amended, 72 P.S. ยง 5860.602(e), by sending notice of the sale to Mr. Rossi's last known post office address as revealed by inquiry with the county assessment office and the local tax collector. In support of this conclusion the court relied primarily on Dawson v. Susquehanna County Tax Claim Bureau, 64 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 106, 438 A.2d 1067 (1982) and Grace Building Co., Inc. v. Page 258} Clouser, 5 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 110, 289 A.2d 525 (1972). The exceptions and objections were accordingly dismissed by the trial court by an order dated March 1, 1983.

Appellants now raise the issue of defective notice before this Court, and appellees refer us to the Dawson and Grace Building line of authority in response.

The Bureau has the burden of proving that it complied with all statutory notice provisions. Casanta v. Clearfield County Tax Claim Bureau, 62 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 216, 435 A.2d 681 (1981). Section 602 of the Law provides for two types of notice prior to a tax sale, publication notice, which was indisputably ...


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