PITTSBURGH - The city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County object to claims made by a husband and wife who filed a class action lawsuit against Allegheny County, the county's Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review, the city and Pittsburgh Public Schools alleging the county raised their real estate tax during the years 2014 through 2016.
The defendants are raising questions on the claims and filed a preliminary objection with the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County Sept. 12. They claim the plaintiffs' complaint is "legally insufficient as its sole county is an action in equity" and the population of the class is "zero." They also allege the plaintiffs have failed to state a claim.
They also contend the plaintiffs "have failed to exhaust their administrative remedies," according the defendants' preliminary objection.
Joseph Nissim Martel and Ester Martel filed the suit on behalf of themselves and all property owners in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas in July. The plaintiffs reside in Pittsburgh.
The class action states the county’s real estate tax assessment value was increased for the two years listed in the suit by the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review of Allegheny County. The plaintiffs claim the tax increase was initiated by either of the defendants listed in the lawsuit.
The Martels also claim the decision was reached on the basis of current market value, not based on an addition or removal of improvements on the properties.
The allege improper actions made by the defendants have caused harms to the plaintiffs and all that are included in the class. This includes: “introducing evidence of the purchase price paid for the property upon its sale subsequent to the base year; permitting the determination of value to be based on the fair market value for the tax year at issue,” and more, according to the complaint.
Doing so allegedly resulted in an unlawful tax increase -- which ultimately benefited the city and crippled its residents, the Martels allege.
As a result, the suit requests that the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County enter judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and the property owners also listed in the suit. The request includes a permanent injunction against Allegheny County and the city of Pittsburgh, which prohibits them from appealing property tax assessments. The plaintiffs also want a “rollback” on their assessed values on their property.
The plaintiffs are represented by Friedman and Friedman in Pittsburgh. The defendants are represented by Weiss Burkardt Kramer LLC in Pittsburgh.