Crawfordsville & Southwestern Tpk. Co. v. Fletcher

Decision Date19 September 1885
Citation2 N.E. 243,104 Ind. 97
CourtIndiana Supreme Court
PartiesCrawfordsville & Southwestern Turnpike Co. v. Fletcher.


Appeal from Montgomery circuit court.Paul & Humphries and Kennedy & Kennedy, for appellant.

A. D. Thomas and John R. Courtney, for appellee.

Elliott, J.

The appellee's complaint alleged that the appellant is a gravel road company formed by a consolidation of the Crawfordsville & Alamo Turnpike Company and the Crawfordsville & Parkersburg Gravel Road Company, and that the consolidation was effected in 1878. The lines of the consolidating companies are described, and it is averred that “the defendant's road has been suffered to get and remain out of repair, so as to be inconvenient for the public travel, for the space of six months and more last passed; that said road is not being repaired; that plaintiff has no good reason to believe that said repairs will be speedily made, ‘and that he is a legal voter of Montgomery county, through which the road runs.”

The complaint is assailed upon several grounds, the first of which is that the statute on which it is based is unconstitutional. This position rests upon the proposition that the statute embraces more than one subject, and is for this reason in conflict with the constitutional provision reading thus: “Every act shall embrace but one subject, and matters properly connected therewith.” In our opinion this position is untenable. The title of the act of 1859 is as follows: “An act to prohibit the collection of tolls on gravel, turnpike, macadamized, and plank roads in certain cases, and to provide the mode of declaring charters of such roads forfeited in certain cases, and repealing all laws inconsistent therewith.” Acts 1859, p. 170. The subject of this act is the effective prohibition of the right to exercise the franchise of collecting tolls. The subject of the act is general, but there is only one general subject, and that is the effective prohibition of the collection of tolls by corporations who disregard the law. The means of effecting this purpose are diverse, but there is no want of unity in the subject. One of the means of effecting the end sought to be attained is the denial of the right to collect tolls in case the law is disregarded; the other method is by wresting from the delinquent corporation its franchises. But both of these methods are directed to the attainment of one general purpose, and are both connected with the subject of the act. A statute embracing a single subject is constitutional, no matter how fully it may enter into the details of that subject. Warren v. Britton, 84 Ind. 14;Bitters v. County of Fulton, 81 Ind. 125;Shoemaker v. Smith, 37 Ind. 122.

The second objection urged against the complaint is that the statute as amended in 1875 does not authorize a judgment of forfeiture, and that, for this reason, the complaint is without foundation. The argument of counsel upon this point is plainly fallacious. They assume that the amended section must be construed as if it stood alone as an independent and distinct statute, and they ignore the doctrine that courts in construing statutes will look to all parts of the same statute, to other statutes, and to general principles of law; they also lose sight of the important rule that courts in construing statutes will look to the purpose intended to be accomplished and the evil intended to be remedied. It is seldom, indeed, that courts look no further than the naked words of a statute. We have a great number of cases in our own reports illustrating and enforcing rules of construction exactly the opposite of the doctrine which counsel tacitly assume to be the correct one, among them the following: Humphries v. Davis, 100 Ind. 274, see authorities cited page 284; Swails v. Swails, 98 Ind. 511, see page 512; Krug v. Davis, 87 Ind. 590, see authorities cited page 596; Bell v. Davis, 75 Ind. 314.

The purpose which the statute under examination was designed to accomplish is apparent, for it cannot be doubted that the legislature meant to provide a method for depriving corporations who are remiss in their duties of all corporate franchises and privileges. It was very evident that it was not intended to leave courts with power to render a judgment that they could not enforce, and this would be the result if appellant's view, that the only judgment that the court can pronounce is that the road is out of repair, should be adopted. We do not believe that the legislature meant to do no more than confer authority to render a judgment that would be nugatory and not enforceable. Our opinion is that the purpose of the legislature was to invest the court with authority to pronounce an effective judgment, and this includes the power to declare a forfeiture for the designated breach of duty.

Taking into consideration the whole statute, and looking to the purpose of the legislature, we do not doubt that the power to declare a forfeiture is vested in the courts. The statute is directed against delinquent corporations, and its general purpose is to compel a performance of duty by affixing the penalty of forfeiture for a violation of corporate duties. The section of the statute under immediate mention is one of several directed to the accomplishment of one general purpose, and it prescribes one method of several of accomplishing this purpose. That the statute is intended to confer authority to enter judgment of forfeiture, and is to be taken as an act directed to the accomplishment of one general purpose, is evident from many provisions found in it. Thus, in one place it is declared “that, in all cases where the court shall declare a forfeiture under the provisions of this act, such forfeiture shall in nowise affect any rights which existed prior to such forfeiture.” In another place it is provided that “whenever any forfeiture of charter or incorporated rights shall be declared, it shall be held to be a vacation of so much of said road as may be declared forfeited.” These provisions, and others of a like general character, plainly show that the act is to be considered as a whole, that its general purpose is to confer authority to adjudge forfeitures, and that one section is not to be isolated from the others. In the amended section we find this clause: “Provided, however, that such forfeiture shall only apply to so much of said road lying in such county as has been proven to be out of repair, as set forth in the before-mentioned section.” Acts 1875, p. 75. Here is an express recognition of the unity of purpose of the act, and a full legislative recognition of the authority to pronounce a judgment of forfeiture. The clause quoted cannot be disregarded nor treated as meaningless, for the general rule is that all the words of a statute shall be deemed effective, and shall have a meaning assigned them, unless by so doing the purpose of the legislature will be defeated. Here it is necessary to give the words a meaning in order to execute the legislative intention and to effectuate the purpose of the legislature. To refuse to assign these words a meaning would frustrate the legislative intention, and violate the rule that all of the words of a statute must be given effect.

It is quite clear from the language and purpose of the amendment of 1875 that there was no intention to make a change in the general system constructed by the statute, but that it was intended to make a change only in detail by giving the delinquent corporation an opportunity to avert the forfeiture by making repairs after the rendition of the interlocutory judgment declaring the road to be out of repair.

It is obvious that the judgment declaring the road to be out of repair is an interlocutory, and not a final, judgment. To declare the road out of repair is not to finally dispose of the action; some other judgment is plainly contemplated. There can be no final judgment until after the judgment declaring the road to be out of repair; and certainly the final judgment must be something more than the interlocutory one. We must hold that the statute authorizes a judgment of forfeiture, or else hold that no final judgment at all is contemplated; and such a conclusion would not only defeat the purpose of the act, but it would also do violence to its language.

In giving to the act the construction adopted, we do not insert any provisions which we think were omitted by mistake; we simply take the statute as it is written, examine all of its provisions, and, proceeding according to long-settled canons of construction, ascertain and declare the intention of the law-making power. We neither add to nor subtract from the provisions of the statute, but, taking them all into consideration, we give effect to the legislative intention as expressed in the statute. The case is not one in which there is such a lack of words as to render the statute ineffective or the intention of the legislature unexpressed; for there are appropriate words, although not the clearest that might have been chosen, and the intention is not doubtful or obscure.

The third objection to the complaint is that it does not state under what law the corporation was organized. This objection presents a question not entirely free from difficulty. It has long been the rule in this state that in cases of this character the complaint or information must state under what statute the corporation was organized. Danville, etc., Co. v. State, 16 Ind. 456;Covington, etc., Co. v. Van Sickle, 18 Ind. 244. The reason for these decisions appears in the case first cited, and from the opinion there given we make this extract: “Under our statute, then, when a corporation does or omits acts which amount to a forfeiture of its charter, or exercises powers not conferred by such charter, an information may be sustained against it; but if the court is not made aquainted with its charter, so as to know what act it is required to perform or omit, how can the court determine...

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