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RICHARD M. PATTERSON v. ARMCO (09/29/86)

decided: September 29, 1986.

RICHARD M. PATTERSON, JAMES A. GREEN AND RICHARD HUFF, COLLECTIVELY BEING MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS OF BUTLER COUNTY AND DONNA CLARK, CHIEF ASSESSOR OF BUTLER COUNTY, APPELLANTS
v.
ARMCO, INC., APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, in case of Armco, Inc. v. Richard M. Patterson, James A. Green and Richard A. Huff, collectively being members of the Board of Assessment Appeals of Butler County, and Donna Clark, Chief Assessor of Butler County, No. 85-345, Book 126, Page 302.

COUNSEL

Alexander H. Lindsay, Jr., with him, James W. Gerlach, Lindsay & Lutz, P.C., for appellants.

Anthony R. Thompson, Thompson, Somach & Vangilder, for appellee.

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

Author: Craig

[ 101 Pa. Commw. Page 106]

The chief tax assessor and the Board of Assessment Appeals of Butler County (county) appeal from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County which, in effect, compels the county to issue amended real estate tax bills to appellee Armco, Inc. for tax years beginning on and after January 1, 1984.

This case began when Armco appealed its Butler County real estate assessments for the tax year beginning January 1, 1984. On December 31, 1984, after a lengthy trial in the court of common pleas, the court entered a decree nisi which, among other things, reduced Armco's real estate assessments. From a March 11, 1985 order dismissing its exceptions to the decree, the county, in April 1985, timely filed appeals which this court has separately decided.*fn1

Although Armco asked the county to revise its assessment records and to bill Armco in accordance with the court's order, the county continued to assess Armco's properties and bill Armco at the old rate. Consequently, on May 20, 1985, Armco filed a mandamus complaint against the county and requested the common pleas court to compel the county to change Armco's assessment records, and to require the county to notify the different taxing jurisdictions and respective tax collectors of such changes effective January 1, 1984. From the trial court's decision in Armco's favor, the county filed a timely appeal, which is the subject of this opinion.

Mandamus will not lie to compel the performance of discretionary acts except where the exercise or non-exercise of discretion is arbitrary, fraudulent or based upon a mistaken view of the law. Madden v. Jeffes, 85 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 414, 482 A.2d 1162 (1984). Instead,

[ 101 Pa. Commw. Page 107]

    the extraordinary remedy of mandamus may compel the performance of a ministerial act only where the petitioner has a clear legal right to the action, the respondent has a corresponding duty and no other adequate remedy exists. DeBald v. McCarthy, 87 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 408, 487 A.2d 460 (1985).

On appeal from the issuance of a writ of mandamus, our scope of review is limited to a determination of whether the common pleas court abused its discretion or committed an error of law. City of Pittsburgh v. Melograne, 89 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 243, 492 A.2d 474 (1985).

Here the county contends that the court committed an error of law by relying on section 705 of the Fourth-to-Eighth Class County Assessment Law,*fn2 72 P.S. ยง 5453.705, to establish Armco's clear right to the relief it requested in its mandamus petition. Specifically, the county claims that the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure have suspended the statutory rule of section 705 and, pursuant to the county's appeal of the court's March 11, 1985 order, ...


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