Friday, June 07, 2013

admin. law - appeal - agency duty to provide info. to calculate appeal period

Schmader v. Cranberry Township – Cmwlth. Cour – June 7, 2013

When the appeal period is triggered by administrative action, the administrative agency has a duty to provide to the recipient information essential to calculating the appeal period. See Schmidt v. Commonwealth, 495 Pa. 238, 241, 433 A.2d 456, 458 (1981). Without such information, the recipient has no reliable basis for knowing the number of days remaining in which to file a petition for review. Id.

In Schmidt, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that, under the applicable statute, the department had a duty to inform the taxpayer of the mailing date of its reassessment decision because, without such information, the taxpayer had no way of knowing how much time he had to file an appeal. 495 Pa. 238, 242, 433 A.2d 456, 458. The Supreme Court held that the first notice was inadequate to trigger the appeal period, and found the appeal to be timely since the Department’s failure to provide the requisite notice of the decision’s mailing date justified the taxpayer’s reliance on the date of the second notice of reassessment as the commencement of the period for appeal. Id. The Supreme Court rejected the contention that a postmark on an envelope carrying an agency decision could serve as notice of the date of mailing. Id.

The Schmidt line of cases remains viable and is controlling here. Because of the Board’s failure, Appellant was justified in filing his appeal within 30 days of receipt of the Board’s decision.