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Pitts v. Delaware County Tax Claim Bureau
February 27, 2009
DELAWARE COUNTY TAX CLAIM BUREAU
The opinion of the court was delivered by: McGinley, Judge
Appeal of Chadd Neumann and Steve Fitzgerald LLP.
Decided February 27, 2009
BEFORE: LEADBETTER, President Judge, and McGINLEY, Judge, SMITH-RIBNER, Judge, PELLEGRINI, Judge, FRIEDMAN*fn1, Judge, JUBELIRER, Judge, and BUTLER, Judge.
OPINION BY Judge McGINLEY.
Chadd Neumann*fn2 (Neumann) and Steve Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald), LLP (collectively, Appellants) appeal from the orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County (trial court)*fn3 that set aside the upset sale at 335 Francis Drive, Haverford, Pa. (Property) and vacated the tax sale deed issued after Appellants' successful bid on the Property.
On March 26, 2007*fn4, Gloria Pitts (Appellee) filed an emergency petition and alleged:
1. Petitioner ... [Appellee] is an adult individual and at all relevant
times hereto the record owner/occupant and principal resident of 335
Francis Lane, Delaware County, Pennsylvania ... hereinafter the
"Property". (emphasis added).
2. Respondent, Delaware County Tax Claim Bureau ... is charged with
... collecting upon delinquent taxes from the residents of the County
of Delaware, such as your Petitioner [Appellee].
4. On September 13, 2006, the Petitioner's [Appellee's] Property was
exposed to Upset Price Sale by the Tax Claim Bureau for purposes of
collecting upon delinquent 2004 real estate taxes in the purported
amount of $2,293.53.
6. Your Petitioner [Appellee] ... only became aware of the said sale
for the first time in early October of 2006 upon finding a post-it
note upon her door from the purported third party purchaser Chad
Neumann, in which he indicated that he had purchased the Property at
8. Your Petitioner [Appellee] has since determined ... that notice of
the said September 13, 2006 Upset Price Sale is fatally defective in
numerous respects, as a result of which she [Appellee] was not
properly apprised of these proceedings as required by law and/or this
13. The records of the file in this matter at the Tax Claim Bureau as
well as the Office of Judicial Support are completely devoid of any
proof of actual notice upon the Petitioner [Appellee] of the
September 17, 2006 Upset Tax Sale.
14. In that regard, the Tax Sale Law specifically provides that no
owner-occupied property may be sold unless the Tax Claim Bureau has
given the owner occupant written notice of such sale at least ten
(10) days prior to the date of actual sale by personal service by the
sheriff, or other designated representative.
15. However, while the file does appear to reflect that notice of the
sale was purportedly posted upon the Property by the Office of the
Sheriff of Delaware County on or about August 6th, 2006, there is
absolutely no proof of personal service upon your Petitioner
[Appellee], the owner/occupant at all times relevant, as required by
the Tax Claim Law.
17. Thereafter, by Petition filed ... on August 28th, the Tax Claim
Bureau requested an Order ... permitting the Tax Claim Bureau to
waive the requirement of personal notice regarding the said owner-
19. In response to the said Petition, this Honorable Court issued
it's [sic] Order ... in which it listed the said Petition for a
Hearing on September 8th, 2006 and further specifically directed the
Tax Claim Bureau to serve Respondents [Appellants] with notice of the
said Petition and Hearing as required by applicable law.
21. Importantly, however, the records of the Tax Claim Bureau as well
as the Office of Judicial Support are completely devoid of
service/notice of the said Petition and/or the September 8th, 2006
22. Nevertheless, this Honorable Court ... permitted the sale of
Petitioner's [Appellee's] Property without the necessity of personal
notice as required by the Tax Sale Law.
23. Assuming for purposes of argument only that waiver of personal
service upon an owner/occupant is even legally permissible, which
your Petitioner [Appellee] would submit is not, your Petitioner
[Appellee] was nevertheless deprived of her due process and
substantive rights in that she was never even provided with
service/notice of the underlying Petition and/or Hearing thereon as
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