228 P.2d 478 (Wash. 1951), 31664, Senior Citizens League v. Department of Social Sec. of Wash.

Docket Nº31664.
Citation228 P.2d 478, 38 Wn.2d 142
Opinion JudgeHAMLEY
Party NameSENIOR CITIZENS LEAGUE, Inc. v. DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SECURITY OF WASHINGTON et al.
AttorneyForrest & Rowles, Brown & Millhouse, all of Bellingham, for appellants., Smith Troy, Jane Dowdle and Lyle L. Iverson, all of Olympia, for respondents.
Judge PanelBEALS, ROBINSON, MALLERY, and GRADY, JJ., concur. HILL, Justice (dissenting).
Case DateMarch 05, 1951
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Washington

Page 478

228 P.2d 478 (Wash. 1951)

38 Wn.2d 142

SENIOR CITIZENS LEAGUE, Inc.

v.

DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SECURITY OF WASHINGTON et al.

No. 31664.

Supreme Court of Washington, en Banc.

March 5, 1951

Page 479

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 480

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 481

[38 Wn.2d 145] Forrest & Rowles, Brown & Millhouse, all of Bellingham, for appellants.

Smith Troy, Jane Dowdle and Lyle L. Iverson, all of Olympia, for respondents.

HAMLEY, Justice.

This is a consolidation of two actions which were brought to test the constitutionality of Initiative Measure No. 178. That initiative, referred to herein as No. 178, was passed by the voters on November 7, 1950, and became effective December 7, 1950. It is a comprehensive act relating to the statewide public assistance program, and amends, in substantial respects, Laws of 1949, chapter 6, Rem.Supp.1949, § 9998-33a et seq., Initiative Measure No. 172. [38 Wn.2d 146]

Plaintiffs instituted the two actions on December 18, 1950. In one they asked for a declaratory judgment declaring No. 178 unconstitutional, for injunctions, and for general relief. In the other they asked for injunctions and general relief only. Amended complaints were thereafter filed, the two being identical as to allegations, but with different prayers for relief, as above indicated. Defendants demurred to the amended complaints. At the same time, and for the purpose of expediting the cause, defendants filed an answer to each amended complaint. This was done with the permission of the court and without waiving defendants' demurrers. Plaintiffs then moved for judgment on the pleadings. The two actions were thereafter consolidated. Argument was had at one time on both demurrers and both motions.

The trial court sustained the demurrers, upon the ground that the amended complaints did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. A decree was accordingly entered, ordering, adjudging, decreeing and declaring that No. 178 is constitutional, and dismissing the action. Plaintiffs have appealed. When reference is made herein to the department of social security alone, the designation 'department' will be used. The term 'departments' will be used to designate the department of social security and the department of health.

Respondents present several preliminary questions which must be considered Before we reach the issues as to the constitutionality of No. 178. These questions, raised by the demurrers, were not passed upon by the trial court, the demurrers being sustained on other grounds. Although respondents have not cross-appealed, they are entitled to renew these preliminary questions here. This may be done under the rule that, if a decision is based upon an erroneous ground, it will nevertheless be sustained if correct on any ground. Buchan v. Knight, 147 Wash. 659, 267 P. 43; In re Improvement of Rockwood Boulevard, 170 Wash. 64, 15 P.2d 652; In re Bodvin's Estate, Wash., 226 P.2d 878.

Respondents first present a jurisdictional question. They contend that this is a suit against the state of Washington; [38 Wn.2d 147] that suits against the state can be maintained only in the manner in which the legislature has consented that the state shall be sued; and that the legislature has prescribed, as the

Page 482

sole manner in which recipients of public assistance may maintain their rights under the public assistance laws, the fair hearing and court review procedures set out in laws of 1949, chapter 6, §§ 8 and 9, Rem.Supp. 1949, §§ 9998-33h, 9998-33i. This procedure was not followed in the instant case. Consequently, respondents argue, the court has no jurisdiction of the subject matter of this action.

Respondents are correct in asserting that an action cannot be maintained against the state without its consent. State ex rel. Pierce County v. Superior Court, 86 Wash. 685, 151 P. 108; State ex rel. Thielicke v. Superior Court, 9 Wash.2d 309, 114 P.2d 1001. Article II, § 26, of the state constitution, provides that the legislature shall direct by law in what manner and in what courts suits may be brought against the state. This has been done, with respect to causes of action in general, by the enactment of Laws of 1895, chapter 95, as amended by Laws of 1927, chapter 216, Rem.Rev.Stat. §§ 886 to 890.

Respondents make no contention that appellants have failed to follow the provisions of Rem.Rev.Stat. § 886 et seq. Hence, with regard to this general statutory procedure, it is not necessary to determine whether this is a suit against the state. Nor is it necessary to decide that question in considering the special statutory and court review procedure provided by chapter 6, Laws of 1949. This is true because that special statutory procedure is exclusive with respect to the kind of grievances therein referred to, whether or not a claim or suit presenting those grievances is considered to be an action against the state.

It only remains to be determined whether the grievances which appellants assert in this case are of the kind referred to in §§ 8 and 9, of chapter 6, Laws of 1949.

This special statutory procedure relates to cases in which an applicant or recipient feels himself aggrieved by the [38 Wn.2d 148] decision of the administrative agency. Appellants, however, do not allege that they are aggrieved by any rule or regulation promulgated by the agency, or by any determination with regard to their individual public assistance grants or eligibility therefor. The gist of their complaint is that No. 178, which purports to amend and modify chapter 6, Laws of 1949, in many respects, is unconstitutional, and that respondents, in proposing to give effect to No. 178, are therefore about to exercise illegal and arbitrary powers to the detriment of appellants.

These allegations may or may not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. They at least disclose that the grievance relied upon is not based upon any decision of the administrative agency. It would accordingly appear that the hearing and court review procedure provided by chapter 6, Laws of 1949, is not here applicable.

Respondents, however, have cited several cases in support of their position that the special statutory procedure governs in this case. One of these, State ex rel. Breslin v. Todd, 8 Wash.2d 482, 113 P.2d 315, involved an application for a writ of mandamus, in which the applicant sought to enforce, as against the commissioners of King county, the public employees' veterans' preference accorded by Rem.Rev.Stat. §§ 10753 and 10754. The second of these sections provides that a failure by public officials to comply with the veterans' preference requirement shall be a misdemeanor. This court held that mandamus does not lie to enforce the preference, since the legislature intended the criminal penalty as the only remedy. That case was not concerned with administrative or court procedure, but with the ultimate relief available.

Two other cases cited by respondents involved attempts to short-cut the court appeal procedure provided in the workmen's compensation act by filing applications for writs of mandate in the supreme court. These are State ex rel. Hawksworth v. Clifford, 130 Wash. 103, 226 P. 272; and State ex rel. Burkhard v. Superior Court, 11 Wash.2d 600, 120 P.2d 477. There was no question but that the grievances [38 Wn.2d 149] there presented were of the kind which were governed by the court review procedure provided in the act. We denied the writs on the familiar ground that relief by mandamus will not be permitted where there is a plain, speedy and adequate remedy by

Page 483

appeal. State ex rel. LaFollette v. Hinkle, 131 Wash. 86, 229 P. 317, also cited by respondents, likewise involved an application for a writ of mandamus, and no special court procedure statute was involved. We denied the application for the same reason announced in the two preceding cases.

State ex rel. Kroener v. Department of Social Security, State Supreme Court No. 31167, also relied upon by respondents, was disposed of by a minute entry denying the application for a writ, no opinion having been issued. Causes disposed of by a simple minute entry are not useful as precedents, since the basis for the court's ruling is not revealed.

Examination of the file in that case indicates, in any event, that the relators claimed to be aggrieved by the act of the department in promulgating certain rules, and in removing one of the relators from the public assistance rolls. The relators had pursued the administrative hearing procedure provided by § 8, chapter 6, Laws of 1949, but desired to short-cut the court review procedure of § 9 by applying to this court for a writ of mandate. Thus no issue was presented as to whether the grievances there asserted were of the kind covered by the special procedure of chapter 6, Laws of 1949.

It is our conclusion that, whether or not this is a suit against the state, appellants were not, in view of the nature of the grievances here asserted, required to follow the hearing and court review procedure set out in chapter 6, Laws of 1949. It follows that, with regard to the injunction action, the court had jurisdiction of the subject matter. The declaratory judgment action will be referred to at a later point in this opinion.

Another preliminary question presented by respondents with regard to the injunction proceeding is whether appellants [38 Wn.2d 150] have the legal capacity to sue for an injunction. It is respondents' position that the complaint fails to allege facts showing any actual or threatened deprivation of appellants' private rights.

It is incumbent upon one who seeks relief by temporary or permanent injunction to show (1) a clear legal or equitable right, and (2) a well-grounded fear of immediate invasion of that right. State ex rel. Hays v. Wilson, 17 Wash.2d 670, 137 P.2d 105; King County v. Port of Seattle,...

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64 practice notes
  • 805 P.2d 33 (Kan. 1991), 64936, Guardian Title Co. v. Bell
    • United States
    • Kansas United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • January 18, 1991
    ...to the complexity of the area sought to be regulated. See Senior Citizens League v. Department of Social Secur., 38 Wash.2d 142, 161, 228 P.2d 478 (1951); Quesenberry v. Estep, 142 W.Va. 426, 95 S.E.2d 832 (1956). Standards may be implied from the statutory purpose. People v. Wright, 30 Cal......
  • 319 P.2d 828 (Wash. 1957), 34407, State ex rel. O'Connell v. Meyers
    • United States
    • Washington United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • December 24, 1957
    ...It does not include a title. Second: In Senior Citizens League, Inc., v. Department of Social Security, 1951, 38 Wash.2d 142, 173, 228 P.2d 478, 495, this court said: 'The legislative title [on an initiative] is mere surplusage, since the constitutional provision quoted above [Art. II, § 19......
  • 378 P.2d 464 (Wash. 1963), 35982, Miller v. City of Tacoma
    • United States
    • Washington United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • February 1, 1963
    ...been an unlawful delegation of legislative power. Senior Citizens League, Inc., v. Department of Social Security, 1951, 38 Wash.2d 142, 228 P.2d 478; Kelleher v. Minshull, 1941, 11 Wash.2d 380, 119 P.2d 302; 11 Am.Jur. 948 Constitutional Law, § 234.' Although, in this opinion, we have cast ......
  • 435 P.2d 975 (Wash. 1968), 38928, State ex rel. Namer Inv. Corp. v. Williams
    • United States
    • Washington United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • January 5, 1968
    ...the application and operation of a law is made to depend. Senior Citizens League, Inc. v. Department of Social Security, 38 Wash.2d 142, 228 P.2d 478 (1951); Shoreline School Dist. No. 412 v. Taxpayers of Shoreline School Dist. No. 412, 52 Wash.2d 849, 329 P.2d 829 (1958); Page 980 P. Traut......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
44 cases
  • 805 P.2d 33 (Kan. 1991), 64936, Guardian Title Co. v. Bell
    • United States
    • Kansas United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • January 18, 1991
    ...to the complexity of the area sought to be regulated. See Senior Citizens League v. Department of Social Secur., 38 Wash.2d 142, 161, 228 P.2d 478 (1951); Quesenberry v. Estep, 142 W.Va. 426, 95 S.E.2d 832 (1956). Standards may be implied from the statutory purpose. People v. Wright, 30 Cal......
  • 319 P.2d 828 (Wash. 1957), 34407, State ex rel. O'Connell v. Meyers
    • United States
    • Washington United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • December 24, 1957
    ...It does not include a title. Second: In Senior Citizens League, Inc., v. Department of Social Security, 1951, 38 Wash.2d 142, 173, 228 P.2d 478, 495, this court said: 'The legislative title [on an initiative] is mere surplusage, since the constitutional provision quoted above [Art. II, § 19......
  • 378 P.2d 464 (Wash. 1963), 35982, Miller v. City of Tacoma
    • United States
    • Washington United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • February 1, 1963
    ...been an unlawful delegation of legislative power. Senior Citizens League, Inc., v. Department of Social Security, 1951, 38 Wash.2d 142, 228 P.2d 478; Kelleher v. Minshull, 1941, 11 Wash.2d 380, 119 P.2d 302; 11 Am.Jur. 948 Constitutional Law, § 234.' Although, in this opinion, we have cast ......
  • 435 P.2d 975 (Wash. 1968), 38928, State ex rel. Namer Inv. Corp. v. Williams
    • United States
    • Washington United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • January 5, 1968
    ...the application and operation of a law is made to depend. Senior Citizens League, Inc. v. Department of Social Security, 38 Wash.2d 142, 228 P.2d 478 (1951); Shoreline School Dist. No. 412 v. Taxpayers of Shoreline School Dist. No. 412, 52 Wash.2d 849, 329 P.2d 829 (1958); Page 980 P. Traut......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • 1975, December, Pg. 2441. Attorney General's Opinions.
    • United States
    • Colorado Bar Journal Nbr. 1975, January 1975
    • January 1, 1975
    ...for independence, self-care and self-support. In Senior Citizens League, Inc. v. Dept. of Social Security, 38 Wash.2d 142, 228 P.2d 478 (1951), the court held that similar language in the Washington statutes conferred a valid and constitutional delegation of authority up......
  • Shackles before sentencing: the global positioning system as a means of pretrial restraint.
    • United States
    • Faulkner Law Review Vol. 3 Nbr. 1, September 2011
    • September 22, 2011
    ...vested property right); see also State v. Robinson, 873 So. 2d 1205 (Fla. 2004); Senior Citizens League v. Dep't of Social Sec. of Wash., 228 P.2d 478 (Wash. 1951). (110) Murphy, supra note 10, at 1344. (111) Id. at 1333. (112) See id. (113) Id. (114) Id. (115) ARIZ. REV. STAT. ANN. [sectio......

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