Summary of Pocono Springs Civic Association, Inc. v. MacKenzie, Superior Ct. of PA (1995)
Parties: APE’s were the development owners; AP’s were the purchasers of the land in question.
Cause of action/remedy sought: The following is a legal action for ejectment.
Procedural History: Trial court granted SJ in favor of APE Pocono. This court affirms as a matter of law.
Facts: AP’s tried to abandon their property to APE and get out of paying any association fees as per the covenant when they found out their land was not suitable for the purpose they wanted to sell it, which was for a sewage system. AP’s claim abandonment defense gets them out of the payments.
APE’s declined the property when AP’s tried to abandon it to them. Then AP’s tried to give land to APE’s as a gift for use as a park; APE declined. AP’s even tried not paying taxes on the land, but no one bought the land in a tax sale. And again, to which the tax board placed the land on its repository list (a warehouse for land of sorts). Fifth, AP’s signed notarized statement mailed to all interested parties expressing their wishes to buy the land. Last, AP’s refuse to accept mail regarding the land.
Issue(s): Under PA property law, does the defense of abandonment render any covenant with the original grantor void?
Holding: No. Upon abandonment there was still perfect title, no matter how many times they tried to get rid of the land.
Court’s Rationale/Reasoning: The court looked at the various acts of AP’s in trying to rid themselves of the land after buying it. There were no takers. Despite AP’s contention that a combination of their actions together with the fact they’ve never visited the land suggests intent manifesting an abandonment.
Based on PA law, AP’s never relinquished title, rights, claim and possession of the lot, and remain owners in FSA. Additionally, they have perfect title, and perfect title in PA cannot be abandoned. There were no takers on the land.
As for AP’s contention that a jury should have been able to determine the question of fact as to their intent, the court held it to be irrelevant in light of the law; this claim amounts to a legal impossibility.
Rule: Abandoned property is that to which an owner has voluntarily relinquished all right, title, claim and possession with the intention of terminating his/her ownership, but w/o vesting it any other person and with the intention of not reclaiming further possession or resuming ownership, possession, or enjoyment. (PA law)
Absent proof to the contrary, possession is presumed to be in the party who has record title.
Perfect title, under PA law, cannot be abandoned.
Did court avoid issues?: No.