Carter v. Hamlin Hospital Dist., No. 4932

CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas. Court of Civil Appeals of Texas
Writing for the CourtMcCLOUD
Citation538 S.W.2d 671
Docket NumberNo. 4932
Decision Date24 June 1976
PartiesC. E. CARTER et al., Appellants, v. HAMLIN HOSPITAL DISTRICT et al., Appellees.

Page 671

538 S.W.2d 671
C. E. CARTER et al., Appellants,
v.
HAMLIN HOSPITAL DISTRICT et al., Appellees.
No. 4932.
Court of Civil Appeals of Texas,
Eastland.
June 24, 1976.
Rehearing Denied July 15, 1976.

Frank Scarborough, Scarborough, Black, Tarpley & Scarborough, Abilene, for appellants.

Jack G. Willingham & John S. Watts, Willingham & Watts, Hamlin, Harry C. Green, Asst. Atty. Gen., Austin, for appellees.

McCLOUD, Chief Justice.

Plaintiffs, C. E. Carter, Leon Kelso, Frank Carter, Henry Ueckert, Darwin Hill, and Carl Jackson, sued the Hamlin Hospital District, its Board of Directors, John Scarborough, John Brown, Jr., Joe Cowan, Bill Harbert, Donald Young, Joe Hudspeth, and John C. Bryant, and the Attorney General of Texas, seeking a declaratory judgment that Chapter 561, Acts of the 63rd Legislature of the State of Texas, Regular Session, 1973, which authorized the creation of the Hamlin Hospital District, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Plaintiffs also sought a permanent injunction enjoining the Hamlin Hospital District from assessing or collecting any taxes on their property. Trial was to a jury. The court granted defendants' motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. Plaintiffs have appealed. We affirm.

Plaintiffs contend the Act violates the Equal Protection Clause in two respects:

(1) The Act is unreasonable and arbitrary because plaintiffs were included within the boundaries of the district for the purpose only of acquiring additional revenue and plaintiffs will receive no benefit from the district; and

(2) the plaintiffs were not given an 'equal weight vote' in the establishment and operation of the district.

Plaintiffs' property is located south of U.S. Highway 180 in Jones County and they argue that there are seven times the number of qualified voters living in the district north of U.S. Highway 180, than there are qualified voters residing south of U.S. 180. They also contend that they, along with other individuals residing south of U.S. Highway 180, own between thirty-five to forty percent of the total value of the taxable property within the Hamlin Hospital District. The jury found that at the time of the passage of the Act authorizing the

Page 673

creation of the district (1) the people in the proposed district residing south of U.S. 180 used trade centers other than Hamlin as their principal trade center; (2) the people in the proposed district residing south of U.S. 180 used hospitals and medical services other than the hospitals and medical services in Hamlin; (3) it could reasonably be expected that the people who lived south of U.S. 180 would not use the hospital and medical services of the proposed Hamlin Hospital District; and, (4) the people residing south of U.S. 180 had no need for the creation of the hospital district or the services to be offered.

Article IX, Section 9 of the Texas Constitution authorizes the Legislature to provide for the creation, establishment, maintenance and operation of hospital districts 'composed of one or more counties or all or any part of one or more counties . . .' Pursuant to this authority, the 63rd Legislature enacted the Act in question which has been codified as an amendment to Article 4494q, Vernon's Ann.Civ.St.

The Act's provisions, in pertinent part, may be summarized as follows. Section 1 contains a metes and bounds description of the district. Section 3 provides that the district shall not be created nor any tax authorized, unless and until these matters are approved by a majority of the qualified electors residing within the district. The Act provides for a 'one man-one vote' election scheme for all elections in the district, including the election to determine whether the district should be created, all bond elections, tax authorization elections, and elections of the district's board of directors. The Act charges the board of directors with the duty of providing medical facilities and services for the residents of the district, and Section 22 expressly states that in carrying out the purpose of the Act, the district will be performing an essential public function. The Act authorizes the board to levy general ad valorem taxes and to issue bonds, upon approval of a majority of the qualified electors residing within the district.

On December 18, 1973, the qualified electors within the proposed district voted to create the Hamlin Hospital District. On August 24, 1974, the qualified electors voted to authorize the board of directors to issue bonds, and to levy, assess, and collect ad valorem taxes on all taxable property within the district.

Defendants argue the court properly entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict because the determination of the boundaries in the instant case is a 'political question' solely within the power, prerogative and discretion of the Legislature and is not justiciable under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. We agree.

The principle that the determination of territorial boundaries...

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11 practice notes
  • State v. Rhine, No. PD-0912-08.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • September 23, 2009
    ...political questions, such as the boundaries of political subdivisions, subject to constitutional limits. Carter v. Hamlin Hosp. Dist., 538 S.W.2d 671, 673 (Tex.Civ.App.-Eastland 1976); see Hunter v. City of Pittsburgh, 207 U.S. 161, 178-79, 28 S.Ct. 40, 52 L.Ed. 151 (1907). It also has excl......
  • Neeley v. West Orange-Cove, No. 04-1144.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • December 16, 2005
    ...within the power, prerogative and discretion of the legislature and not subject to judicial review"); C.E. Carter v. Hamlin Hosp. Dist., 538 S.W.2d 671, 675 (Tex.Civ.App. — Eastland 1976, writ ref. n.r.e.) (holding that whether a hospital district included areas not benefitted by any servic......
  • State ex rel. Angel Fire Home and Land Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. South Cent. Colfax County Special Hosp. Dist., No. 10945
    • United States
    • New Mexico Court of Appeals of New Mexico
    • June 21, 1990
    ...uniform and are for public purposes in which the City has an interest." Id. at 455, 303 S.W.2d at 783. Cf. Carter v. Hamlin Hosp. Dist., 538 S.W.2d 671 (Tex.Ct.App.1976) (no denial of equal protection in legislature's including within hospital district an area whose owners will pay 40% of t......
  • Superior Oil Co. v. City of Port Arthur, No. 8701
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • December 22, 1981
    ...ref'd n.r.e.), dism'd w.o.j. and cert. denied, 379 U.S. 646, 85 S.Ct. 612, 13 L.Ed.2d 551 (1965); Carter v. Hamlin Hospital District, 538 S.W.2d 671 (Tex.Civ.App.-Eastland 1976, writ ref'd n.r.e.), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 984, 97 S.Ct. 1680, 52 L.Ed.2d 378 (1977); City of Pasadena v. Houston......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • State v. Rhine, No. PD-0912-08.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • September 23, 2009
    ...political questions, such as the boundaries of political subdivisions, subject to constitutional limits. Carter v. Hamlin Hosp. Dist., 538 S.W.2d 671, 673 (Tex.Civ.App.-Eastland 1976); see Hunter v. City of Pittsburgh, 207 U.S. 161, 178-79, 28 S.Ct. 40, 52 L.Ed. 151 (1907). It also has excl......
  • Neeley v. West Orange-Cove, No. 04-1144.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • December 16, 2005
    ...within the power, prerogative and discretion of the legislature and not subject to judicial review"); C.E. Carter v. Hamlin Hosp. Dist., 538 S.W.2d 671, 675 (Tex.Civ.App. — Eastland 1976, writ ref. n.r.e.) (holding that whether a hospital district included areas not benefitted by any servic......
  • State ex rel. Angel Fire Home and Land Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. South Cent. Colfax County Special Hosp. Dist., No. 10945
    • United States
    • New Mexico Court of Appeals of New Mexico
    • June 21, 1990
    ...uniform and are for public purposes in which the City has an interest." Id. at 455, 303 S.W.2d at 783. Cf. Carter v. Hamlin Hosp. Dist., 538 S.W.2d 671 (Tex.Ct.App.1976) (no denial of equal protection in legislature's including within hospital district an area whose owners will pay 40% of t......
  • Superior Oil Co. v. City of Port Arthur, No. 8701
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • December 22, 1981
    ...ref'd n.r.e.), dism'd w.o.j. and cert. denied, 379 U.S. 646, 85 S.Ct. 612, 13 L.Ed.2d 551 (1965); Carter v. Hamlin Hospital District, 538 S.W.2d 671 (Tex.Civ.App.-Eastland 1976, writ ref'd n.r.e.), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 984, 97 S.Ct. 1680, 52 L.Ed.2d 378 (1977); City of Pasadena v. Houston......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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