Decision Date11 June 1970
Docket NumberNo. 70-194-Civ-J.,70-194-Civ-J.
Citation314 F. Supp. 181
PartiesNorma Jean CRAPPS and Evelyn B. Hall, individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. DUVAL COUNTY HOSPITAL AUTHORITY OF DUVAL COUNTY, FLORIDA, a body politic and corporate of the State of Florida, operating as Duval Medical Center, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Middle District of Florida

Joseph F. Duszlak, Russell H. Showalter, Jr., Duval County Legal Aid Ass'n, Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., for plaintiffs.

James C. Rinaman, Jr., Gen. Counsel, David U. Tumin, John J. Higgins, Asst. Counsel, Jacksonville, Fla., for defendant.


SCOTT, District Judge.

This cause came on for hearing in open court, with all parties represented by counsel, on May 14, 1970.

The plaintiffs, Norma Jean Crapps and Evelyn B. Hall, are female citizens of the United States. Both plaintiffs also claim to be residents of the City of Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida. The plaintiff Crapps moved to Jacksonville from Montana on March 7, 1970, and claims that she intends to make Jacksonville her permanent home. The plaintiff Hall moved to Jacksonville from New York in February 1970, and she likewise claims that she intends to make Jacksonville her permanent place of residence. It is uncontested that both plaintiffs are indigent.

The defendant, Duval County Hospital Authority of Duval County, Florida, operating as Duval Medical Center, is an agency created and regulated by Chapter 63-1305, Laws of Florida, 1963, a special act with local application only in Duval County, Florida. Section 21 of Chapter 63-1305, Laws of Florida, 1963, requires that indigent individuals reside in Duval County, Florida, one (1) year preceding their application for free medical care in the defendant hospital, and it is this durational residency statute which is the root of this controversy (see Appendix A).

Plaintiffs claim to be persons who meet all standards of eligibility for admission to the Duval Medical Center for medical care without charge, subject to the rules and regulations prescribed by the Governing Body of the Duval County Hospital Authority, except that they have not resided in Duval County for a period of one (1) year preceding their applications for medical treatment. Both plaintiffs have been refused admission to the Duval Medical Center prior to institution of this suit, allegedly for the sole reason of their failure to meet the durational residency requirement.

At the hearing the defendant introduced some evidence to the effect that the reason the plaintiffs had not been admitted was their failure to submit the necessary information for the defendant to determine the plaintiffs' eligibility. Plaintiffs, on the other hand, contended that the application information given to the plaintiffs by the defendant (see Appendix B) clearly indicates the requirement of one (1) year of residency, and thus it would have been futile for the plaintiffs to have supplied further information to the defendant.

In reality this factual dispute is insignificant, for it is obvious that even if the plaintiffs had supplied all necessary information and had submitted all required forms, and were otherwise qualified for medical treatment, their lack of one (1) year of residency in Duval County would preclude their admission to the Duval Medical Center.

Thus, the plaintiffs have filed this action on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, predicated on 28 U.S.C. § 1343, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201, 2202, alleging that the defendant, under the color of state law, is depriving the plaintiffs of rights, privileges and immunities secured to the plaintiffs by the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. They request redress in the form of a declaratory judgment from this Court that the durational residency requirement of Section 21 of Chapter 63-1305, Laws of Florida, 1963, is unconstitutional, as well as a permanent injunction against the further enforcement of the durational residency requirement.

Fortunately, the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 89 S.Ct. 1322, 22 L.Ed.2d 600 (1969), makes the task of deciding this case an easy one. In Shapiro the Supreme Court held that a statutory one (1) year residency requirement established by several states as a prerequisite to the granting of welfare assistance violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In that opinion the Court said:

We do not doubt that the one-year waiting period device is well suited to discourage the influx of poor families in need of assistance. An indigent who desires to migrate, resettle, find a new job, and start a new life will doubtless hesitate if he knows that he must risk making the move without the possibility of falling back on state welfare assistance during his first year of residence, when his need may be most acute. But the purpose of inhibiting migration by needy persons into the State is constitutionally impermissible.

The Supreme Court further stated:

* * * appellants argue that even if it is impermissible for a State to attempt to deter the entry of all indigents, the challenged classification may be justified as a permissible state attempt to discourage those indigents who would enter the State solely to obtain larger benefits. We observe first that none of the statutes before us is tailored to serve that objective. Rather, the class of barred newcomers is all-inclusive, lumping the great majority who come to the State for other purposes with those who come for the sole purpose of collecting higher benefits. In actual operation, therefore, the three statutes enact what in effect are nonrebuttable presumptions that every applicant for assistance in his first year of residence came to the jurisdiction solely to obtain higher benefits. Nothing whatever in any of these records supplies any basis in fact for such a presumption.

Although the terms "residence" and "domicil" have distinct legal meanings, they are often used synonymously in statutes when residence is a pre-requisite to the qualification for a right or privilege. See 11 Florida Jurisprudence, Domicil and Residence § 6. Such is the present case. In strict legal terms, domicil is the place where a person has fixed his abode with the present intention of making it his permanent home. Minick v. Minick, 111 Fla. 469, 149 So. 483 (1933). While Section 21 of Chapter 63-1305, Laws of Florida, 1963, uses the word "resided", it in reality seeks to determine domicil by establishing a non-rebuttable presumption that those who have not lived in Duval County for that period do not have the present intent to make Duval County their permanent home. But the Supreme Court, in Shapiro, has held that such a presumption may not be erected to determine domicil (or residency as the terms are used synonymously) because the thing presumed (domicil) does not necessarily follow from the established standards (one (1) year's presence). Neither does the lack of one year of residency prove that an individual lacks the present intent to make his domicil in Duval County. The resulting classification of otherwise equal indigents, and the resulting dissimilarity in treatment afforded the two classes of indigents, based on such an irrational distinction, is prohibited by the equal protection clause. Moreover, since in moving from state to state persons are exercising a constitutional right, any classification which serves to hinder that right is unconstitutional in the absence of a compelling state interest.


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