New lawsuit challenges Allegheny County assessment appeals

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Allegheny County hearing officers who decided property assessment appeals "engaged in arbitrary and capricious conduct" when they disregarded the results of certified real estate appraisals, according to a new lawsuit.

"Allegheny County made it clear in various fashions to the general public and specifically to those who were seeking assessment appeals that ... each citizens engaging in a formal appeal should present a professional certified real estate appraisal to successfully challenge the [new] assessed values," the complaint says.

Those formal challenges were conducted by hearing officers employed by the county's quasi-independent Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review.

"BPAAR Hearing Officers either denied, disregarded or arbitrarily modified in the face of no evidence ... the evidentiary proof presented by the plaintiffs in the form of the professional certified real estate appraisals," according to the complaint.

The legal action asks county court to require that county hearing officers automatically accept the results of the certified appraisals as the basis for new assessments unless a municipality or school district presented comparable evidence.

The class-action suit was filed Monday by lawyer David M. Huntley on behalf of 11 property owners from several neighborhoods across Allegheny County and "all others similarly situated." It names the county and the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review as defendants.

The property owners bringing the suit also are seeking attorneys' fees and costs.

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Len Barcousky: or 412-263-1159.


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