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Judge seeking return of property dispute case

Bernard acknowledges she made a mistake in ruling

A Blair County judge has acknowledged that she made a mistake in a ruling involving a property dispute, and she requested that the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which was reviewing the case, to send it back to her for correction.

The Superior Court on Tuesday acknowledged the request by Judge Jackie Bernard, stating that it was reversing her original decision and sending it back to Blair County “for further proceedings.”

The unusual request by Bernard involved a property along Reservoir Road in Blair Township.

According to the facts of the case, as stated by Bernard in an opinion issued on Dec. 22, 2012, a Blair County couple had agreed to purchase a home on an article of agreement and resided together in the property for several years.

Eventually, the couple broke off their relationship, and last September the husband sued the wife seeking credit for the money he had paid under the article of agreement.

The wife, through her attorney, asked that his “action for partition” be dismissed because, as the wife contended, the article of agreement was void because the couple defaulted on their payments and that the husband was no longer an owner of the property.

Bernard found in favor of the wife and dismissed the husband’s legal complaint.

The husband filed an appeal with the Superior Court and it was in the process of being reviewed by a panel.

According to Tuesday’s Superior Court ruling, no foreclosure action on the property (by the original owners) has been filed.

Because of this, the husband’s attorney argued in his brief before the appeals court that the wife had failed to state a lawful claim that would allow the trial court to dismiss his lawsuit.

“Here, (the husband) … pled an interest in the property by virtue of the June 7, 2013, Article of Agreement,” the Superior Court pointed out.

So while “the husband does not have a legal title to the property, he does maintain an equitable interest in the property pursuant to the Article of Agreement that he entered into along with (his wife),” Bernard stated in her communication with the Superior Court.

She wrote, “the Court recognizes and acknowledges an error of law in our opinion and order of December, 22, 2012 in which the preliminary objections were granted.”

“The trial court respectfully requests the Superior Court to remand this action to allow the partition action to move forward in accordance with the law,” Bernard concluded.

The Superior Court panel wrapped up its opinion by stating, “We agree that the trial court erred in sustaining (the wife’s) objections and dismissing (the husband’s) complaint.'”

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