SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

September 3, 2013

$280K home loss over $6?

Woman might not lose $280,000 home over $6

By Mark Scolforo ASSOCIATED PRESS

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A western Pennsylvania woman whose $280,000 home was sold at auction over $6.30 in unpaid interest won a court decision yesterday allowing her a fresh opportunity to argue she should not lose her home.

Commonwealth Court ruled it was a mistake for a Beaver County judge to rule against Eileen Battisti without first holding an evidentiary hearing.

Eileen Battisti

“This was particularly inappropriate because the outstanding liability was small and the value of the home was far greater than the amount paid by (the) purchaser,” wrote Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt.

Leavitt said the state Supreme Court has “emphasized that due process under both the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions must be satisfied whenever the government subjects a citizen’s property to forfeiture for nonpayment of taxes.”

Battisti’s attorney says she still lives in her Aliquippa home, even though it was sold nearly two years ago to S.P. Lewis of Imperial for about $116,000. Messages seeking comment weren’t returned yesterday by Lewis or his attorney, or by the Beaver County solicitor’s office.

Battisti purchased the home outside Pittsburgh in 1999 with her husband, who managed their finances. She paid off the property after he died in 2004 with proceeds from his life-insurance policy.

  • The opinion by Leavitt said Battisti had difficulty taking over the financial matters, in part because of a series of personal setbacks. She fell behind on various tax bills, but believed she had paid them all off, even though some were late.

The $6.30 penalty was added to her tax bill in 2009, which grew with interest and costs to $235 by late 2011, when the home was auctioned. She appealed to county court, which ruled in May 2012 that she received all notices required by law. A month later, Judge C. Gus Kwindis ordered that the Beaver County Tax Claim Bureau could not issue a deed to Lewis while Battisti appealed.

An attorney for Lewis offered to settle the dispute last year for $160,000 from Battisti. David Holland wrote in a court brief that Battisti had notice of the tax sale, and that she made arguments in the appeal that legal procedures should not permit.

Battisti’s attorney, Ed Santillan, said his client was elated by the court’s decision.

(So obviously, bad law and cruel injustice can happen in any state — anywhere!   See, bet your problems aren’t this bad. Jan)

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: