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In re Sale of Real Estate by Lackawanna County Tax Claim Bureau

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

May 14, 2014

In Re: Sale of Real Estate by Lackawanna County Tax Claim Bureau, Judicial Tax Sale Property Situated at: 221 Stephen Avenue, Scranton, PA, Tax Map No. 15612-030-020, Appeal of Nicole Pascal

Submitted January 31, 2014

Appealed from No. 12 CV 7898. Common Pleas Court of the County of Lackawanna. Judge Kane, Senior Judge.

Craig A. Hoenie, Pittston, for appellant.

Joseph A. O'Brien and Michael J. O'Brien, Clarks Summit, for appellee RRR Investments, LLC.

BEFORE: HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, President Judge, HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge, HONORABLE JAMES GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge. OPINION BY PRESIDENT JUDGE PELLEGRINI.[1]. DISSENTING OPINION BY SENIOR JUDGE COLINS.

OPINION

DAN PELLEGRINI, President Judge

Nicole Pascal (Pascal) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County (trial court) dismissing her objections, exceptions and petition to set aside or void the judicial sale of her real property pursuant to the Real Estate Tax Sale Law (Law).[2] For the following reasons, we vacate the trial court's order and remand the case for an evidentiary hearing.

Pascal owned tax-delinquent real estate in Scranton, Pennsylvania, which was subject to a tax upset sale but did not sell.[3] Subsequently, a judicial sale was held at which RRR Investments, LLC purchased

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the property. [4] Pascal filed objections, exceptions and a petition to set aside or void the judicial sale, alleging that the Lackawanna County Tax Claim Bureau (Bureau) violated the Law's notice provisions because it failed to provide adequate notice of the upset sale[5] and to properly post the property[6] prior to the upset sale. She further alleged that the Bureau failed to provide adequate notice of the judicial sale because notice was served at an outdated address.[7]

The trial court did not hold a hearing but instead directed the parties to file briefs in support of and in opposition to Pascal's petition. Relying on the Bureau's brief and its exhibits, the trial court found that the Bureau complied with the notice provisions and it sustained the judicial sale and dismissed Pascal's petition. This appeal followed.

On appeal,[8] Pascal contends that the trial court's decision lacks supporting evidence because the trial court did not hold a hearing to enter evidence into the record but relied upon the parties' briefs. RRR Investments, LLC counters that a hearing was unnecessary because the parties' briefs contained undisputed facts establishing that the Bureau's upset tax and judicial

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sale complied with the Law's notice ...


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