Brotherhood of S. Engineers v. City of St. Louis

Decision Date15 June 1948
Docket NumberNo. 27475.,27475.
Citation212 S.W.2d 454
PartiesBROTHERHOOD OF STATIONARY ENGINEERS et al. v. CITY OF ST. LOUIS et al.
CourtMissouri Court of Appeals

Appeal from St. Louis Circuit Court; F. E. Williams, Judge.

"Not to be reported in State Reports."

Suit by the Brotherhood of Stationary Engineers of Missouri, a corporation, and certain of its officers and members, against the City of St. Louis, a municipal corporation, and certain of its officers, to enjoin the defendants from enforcing an ordinance for the licensing and regulation of stationary engineers. From a judgment dismissing the petition, the plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court ordered the cause transferred to the St. Louis Court of Appeals.

Judgment affirmed.

Elmer E. Walter and Arthur G. Heyne, both of St. Louis, for appellants.

George L. Stemmler, City Counselor, and Oliver Senti and John P. McCammon, Associate City Counselors, all of St. Louis, for respondents.

BENNICK, Commissioner.

This is a suit to enjoin the City of St. Louis and certain of its officers from enforcing an ordinance for the licensing and regulation of stationary engineers as against persons holding certificates of qualification issued by the Brotherhood of Stationary Engineers of Missouri, an association of local stationary engineers, which was incorporated in 1882 by a pro forma decree of the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis.

The plaintiffs, in addition to the Brotherhood, are some eleven of its officers and members, including one Thomas Clay Bishop. The defendants, in addition to the City of St. Louis, are its Director of Public Safety, Boiler Commissioner, and Chief of Police.

The primary question in the case is whether the city ordinance for the licensing and regulation of stationary engineers is inconsistent with the state law upon the same subject (Secs. 14956, 14957, R.S.Mo. 1939, Mo.R.S.A. §§ 14956, 14957), and therefore violative of Section 7442, R.S.Mo. 1939, Mo.R.S.A. § 7442, which provides that "any municipal corporation in this state, whether under general or special charter, and having authority to pass ordinances regulating subjects, matters and things upon which there is a general law of the state, unless otherwise prescribed or authorized by some special provision of its charter, shall confine and restrict its jurisdiction and the passage of its ordinances to and in conformity with the state law upon the same subject."

Section 14956 provides that no person shall be authorized to manage, control, take charge of, or act as engineer of any steam boiler, engine, or apparatus in any city of this state having over twenty thousand inhabitants who has not the requisite knowledge and ability to manage the same with safety to the lives and property of the inhabitants of such cities, and that any person engaging in such employment who shall not be a duly qualified engineer shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction shall be fined not less than ten nor more than five hundred dollars.

Section 14957 provides that any incorporated association of qualified local steam engineers in any such city shall be authorized to grant certificates of qualification to all persons who duly pass an examination before a committee of examiners of such association and are found competent to manage steam engines, boilers, and apparatus, "any such certificate to be prima facie evidence of the qualifications of the person to whom it is issued".

The ordinance in question is codified as Section 4618 et seq., Revised Code of St. Louis 1936.

Section 4618 provides for the appointment of a Board of Engineers of three members, one of whom shall be the Chief Inspector of Boilers and Elevators.

Section 4619 provides, among other things, for weekly sessions of the Board to examine into the qualifications of applicants for engineers' licenses. The Board is required to grant certificates of license for one year to all applicants who, upon examination, are found to have the requisite qualifications to perform the duties of an engineer, and no person possessing such qualifications may be refused a license. Each applicant pays a fee of five dollars for each examination, and licenses are renewed upon the payment of two dollars. The Board is authorized to adopt such rules and regulations as it may deem proper, not inconsistent with the ordinance and the general law.

Section 4620 provides for the granting of permits to trustworthy persons other than licensed engineers for the operation of certain small high-pressure boilers used for power only, and all low-pressure boilers used for heating purposes only, if such persons are found competent by the Inspector of Boilers and Elevators after proper recommendation. At all times when boilers are in use and engines run, there shall be in charge an engineer having a certificate of license from the Board of Engineers, except that in case the owner or user of any boiler shall for cause, be deprived of the services of a licensed engineer, he may put a trustworthy person in charge for a time not exceeding twenty-four hours, unless a special permit is obtained from the Inspector of Boilers and Elevators extending the time, which in no case shall exceed three days. Any owner or user of a boiler neglecting or refusing to employ a licensed engineer as in the ordinance provided, or any unlicensed person found in charge of boilers or engines requiring a licensed engineer as in the ordinance provided, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction shall pay a fine of not less than twenty-five and not more than one hundred dollars.

Section 4621 provides that every applicant for a license must have had at least two years' experience at mechanical or steam engineering.

On February 25, 1946, the Board of Aldermen, apparently prompted by an acute shortage of skilled workers, amended the ordinance by enacting and adding to it what is known as Section 4621A, which provides that the preceding section (evidently Section 4620) shall not prevent the temporary employment of an unlicensed person for a period in excess of three days, if the Board of Engineers shall have determined and entered in its minutes the fact that sufficient licensed engineers are not available to operate all steam boilers and engines in the city, and if the Board shall have determined, upon an examination of such person, that because of his experience of at least one year in operating equipment of a similar type to that over which he is put in charge, he is a suitable person to temporarily operate the particular plant, and shall have issued him a permit to do so, which permit shall not be for a longer period than one year, and shall not authorize the holder thereof to operate any other power plant.

So much for the ordinance as well as for the statutes with which it is claimed that the ordinance is inconsistent.

It would appear that the present suit is the culmination of a controversy of some duration between the Brotherhood and the City of St. Louis over the latter's right to insist upon certificates of license from the members of the Brotherhood over and above the certificates of qualification issued its members by the Brotherhood itself pursuant to the authority conferred by Section 14957 of the state law. Of the two hundred members of the Brotherhood, only about eighty hold licenses from the City of St. Louis; and there was evidence that some of the members had been denied licenses upon the ground of lack of necessary experience. Furthermore, there is the added complication of a difference in attitude between the Brotherhood and its competitor, the local branch of the National Association of Power Engineers, whose members hold licenses from the City of St. Louis. As a matter of fact, the National Association of Power Engineers, without dissent from those of its members who also belong to the Brotherhood, not only favors the enforcement of the ordinance in question, but indeed was organized for the primary purpose of securing the enactment and enforcement of license laws and the education of engineers.

The controversy apparently reached its climax about August 21, 1946, when plaintiff Thomas Clay Bishop was arrested at the instance of the City of St. Louis and charged with a violation of the ordinance in operating a high-pressure boiler without a license. Bishop was employed at the time by the St. Louis Plywood Manufacturers, Inc., and a few days later one Russakov, the official of the company in charge of the plant, was also arrested and charged with a violation of the ordinance in having employed some one other than a licensed engineer as in the ordinance provided. Bishop held a certificate of qualification from the Brotherhood at the time of his arrest, but had neither a license nor a permit from the City of St. Louis. Representatives of the City of St. Louis had called upon him and insisted that he apply for a permit; and it was upon his refusal to heed their request that he was arrested and charged with a violation of the ordinance. Both his and Russakov's cases are now pending in City Court, where they are being continued on the docket by agreement of the parties until the determination of the present case.

On August 29, 1946, the Brotherhood, acting under its charter power to sue and be sued, and joined by eleven of its officers and members including Thomas Clay Bishop, caused the present injunction suit to be instituted.

Plaintiffs charged in their petition that defendants had threatened that all members of the Brotherhood without licenses from the City of St. Louis, as well as their respective employers, would be arrested on each and every day such members were found in charge of and operating steam power plants and engines in the City of St. Louis, and that by reason of such fact the members of the Brotherhood would be prevented from carrying on their occupations, and would be deprived of their property rights in their...

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    ...to enjoin enforcement of the ordinance on behalf of plaintiffs and all others similarly situated. Brotherhood of Stationary Engineers et al. v. City of St. Louis, Mo.App., 212 S.W.2d 454, 458; McVey v. Hawkins, 364 Mo. 44, 258 S.W.2d 927 et seq., Paragraph 1. In this case, as in the last ci......
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