Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corp. v. Moll

Decision Date01 April 1976
Docket NumberEVANSVILLE-VANDERBURGH,No. 476S94,476S94
Citation264 Ind. 356,344 N.E.2d 831
PartiesSCHOOL CORPORATION, Appellant, v. Edwin A. MOLL et al., Appellees.
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

DeBRULER, Justice.

This is a complaint filed by school bus drivers against the school corporation which employed them. The plaintiff-drivers seek to recover additional compensation to which they consider themselves entitled under the terms of their written contracts with the defendant-school corporation. They allege that the defendant failed to pay them for a sufficient number of days service. The trial court granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs, and the defendant appealed. The First District Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court and affirmed the judgment. 318 N.E.2d 391 (1974). The motion to dismiss the petition to transfer is denied. The petition to transfer is granted.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment. The court correctly determined that there was no genuine issue of material fact which would require a trial and that the case was a proper one for summary disposition under Ind.R.Tr.P. 56. The trial court made special findings of fact and conclusions of law. The relevant events and facts in this case are as follows:

In 1965, the Indiana Legislature enacted the School Transportation Code of 1965, Acts 1965, ch. 260. That Act governed the legal relationship between school bus drivers and school corporations in many respects, only a few of which are relevant here. It required school bus driver contracts to be in writing. Ind.Code § 20-9-1-5, Burns § 28-5105 (1970). Such contracts were to be negotiated after the completion of a process of publishing contract specifications and giving notice to the public for the taking of bids and were to be awarded upon consideration of bids or proposals. Ind.Code §§ 20-9-1-6, 20-9-1-7 and 20-9-1-8, Burns §§ 28-5106, 28-5107 and 28-5108 (1970). The form of the contract is to be prescribed by the State School Bus Committee and approved by the State Board of Accounts. Ind.Code § 20-9-3-2(f), Burns § 28-5129(f) (1970). Most relevant here, the Act established the formula to be used in fixing and determining the compensation of those bus drivers, who, like the plaintiffs, owned their own buses:

'In the event a school bus driver for a public school corporation owns either the chassis or the body of a school bus, or owns both the chassis and the body of a school bus, the compensation of the driver shall be fixed and determined, by the terms of the school bus contract, on a per diem basis for the same number of days that determines the compensation of teachers in the schools to which such school bus driver transports school children.' Ind.Code § 20-9-2-3, Burns § 28-5121 (1970).

This provision is hereafter referred to as 'the statute.'

In the 1971 session of the Indiana Legislature, an amendment to the School Transportation Code of 1965 was enacted, which superseded Burns § 28--5121, above, and changed the formula for determining the compensation of bus drivers of this same class. The new formula was set out in the following provision:

'In the event a school bus driver for a public school corporation owns either the chassis or the body of a school bus, or owns both the chassis and the body of a school bus, the compensation of the driver shall be fixed and determined, by the terms of the school bus contract, on a per diem basis for the number of days (a) on which the calendar of the school corporation provides that students are to be in attendance at school, (b) the driver is required by the school corporation to operate the bus on school related activities, and (c) days of in-service training which is either requested by statute or authorized by the school corporation including, but not limited to, the safety meeting workshops provided for in IC 1971, 20-9-2-5.' Acts 1971, P.L. 324, § 1, p. 1302. (Ind.Code § 20-9-2-3, Burns § 28-5121 (1971 Supp.))

This provision is hereafter referred to as 'the amendment.' The Governor approved this amendment on April 7, 1971, but, since it included no emergency clause, it did not become effective until promulgation, which occurred on September 2, 1971.

In August, 1971, the parties signed the bus contracts in issue. Paragraphs 8 and 10 of the contracts related to the formula to be applied in fixing and determining the plaintiffs' compensation:

'8. It is agreed that the provisions of Acts 1965, ch. 260, and as same may be amended, are hereby made a part of this contract, and that it is the intention of the parties hereto to enter into a binding contract subject to the School Transportation Code (Acts 1965, ch. 260), the provisions of which shall prevail over any part of this contract determined to be in conflict therewith.'

'10. The School Corporation shall compensate the Driver as fixed and determined by the terms of this contract on a per diem basis for the number of days on which the Driver is required to operate the bus either in the transportation of children or in other duties assigned by the School Corporation or for days of in-service training which is either required by statute or authorized by the Board of School Trustees of the School Corporation.

The School Corporation shall pay the Driver the sum of Fifty-five Dollars fifty Cents ($55.50) per diem during school year 1971-1972.

The School Corporation shall pay the Driver the sum of Fifty-five Dollars fifty Cents ($55.50) per diem during school year 1971-1973.

The School Corporation shall pay the Driver the sum of Fifty-five Dollars fifty Cents ($55.50) per diem during school year 1973-1974.

The School Corporation shall pay the Driver the sum of Fifty-five Dollars fifty Cents ($55.50) per diem during school year 1974-1975.' 1

Paragraph 8 was taken from the standard form approved by the State School Bus Committee and the State Board of Accounts. Paragraph 10 had not been so approved. The formula in paragraph 10 did not conform to the statute in effect on the days the contracts were executed. However, the formula did conform to the amendment passed by the Legislature and approved by the Governor on April 7, 1971.

Prior to the execution of the contracts and in accordance with the Code, the school had adopted and published contract specifications. Those specifications provided in relevant part:

'All contracts between the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation and school bus drivers shall contain all the provisions set forth in Chapter 260 of the Acts of 1965, as amended, or other statutory provisions.

A school bus contract shall be bid on the basis of a proposal and negotiations, and may be let for a term of either two (2) years or four (4) years. A separate per diem rate shall be proposed for each one hundred eighty-two (182) day school year of the term. The per diem basis for pay shall be the number of days on which bus drivers are required to operate buses either in the transportation of children or in other duties assigned by the school or for days of in-service training which is either required by statute or authorized by the governing body of the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation.'

The specifications were the basis for the contracts executed by the parties and, like paragraph 10, conformed to the amendment, but not to the statute in effect at the time. The specifications expressly stated that the school corporation would pay compensation at the driver's own particular contract rate for 182 days service during each year of the time of the contract and that the basis for arriving at the figure of 182 days was the formula in the amendment.

This entire case is to be decided by determining which of two possible formulae is to be applied in calculating the compensation due the plaintiff-drivers. The plaintiffs contend that the alleged incorporative effect of paragraph 8 of the contract and § 28-5121 (1970), the provision of the School Transportation Code of 1965 in effect on the date the contracts were signed, is to require that the formula contained in § 28-5121 (1970) be applied. According to plaintiffs, application of this formula would result in the drivers being paid at the per diem rate in the contract, for the same number of days as the teachers were paid, that is, approximately 200 days, for each year of the contract. The defendant, on the other hand, contends that the formula to be applied is the one actually set out in paragraph 10 of the contract, and taken from the 1971 amendment to the School Transportation Code of 1965, even though the amendment did not supersede the formula in § 28-5121 (1970) until September 2, 1971 and, therefore, was not yet legally effective on the date the contracts were signed. Application of this formula would result in the drivers being paid for days on which they actually operated their school buses or attended training sessions, that is, for 182 days for each year of the contract.

The decision in this case is to be reached upon a resolution of two primary issues:

(1) Which of the two formulae did the parties include in their contracts; and

(2) Is there any legal impediment to the enforcement of the contracts as written.

I.

The trial court, agreeing with the plaintiffs' position, concluded that the operative formula was the one set forth in § 28-5121 (1970). This formula came into the contract by way of the reference in the first clause of paragraph 8 to: 'the provisions of Acts 1965, ch. 260, and as same may be amended,' which were made a part of the contract; and the reference in the second clause of paragraph 8 to: 'the School Transportation Code (Acts 1965, ch. 260),' the provisions of which were to prevail over actual contract provisions in conflict with it.

The first step in the chain of reasoning by which the trial court reached its conclusion was its determination that ...

To continue reading

Request your trial
49 cases
  • In re Hart
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Northern District of Indiana
    • July 3, 1991
    ...to read the provisions of the judgment so as to render all of them effective and not mere surplusage. Evansville-Vanderburg Sch. Corp. v. Moll. et al. (1976), 264 Ind. 356, 344 N.E.2d 831; Woodruff v. Wilson Oil Co. (1978), 178 Ind.App. 428, 382 N.E.2d Id. 450 N.E.2d at 1009. Thus, the Cour......
  • Lafayette Beverage Distributors v. Anheuser-Busch
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Indiana
    • August 25, 1982
    ...clear its meaning. Ethyl Corp. v. Forcum-Lannom Associates, Inc., Ind.App., 433 N.E.2d 1214 (1982); Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corp. v. Moll, 264 Ind. 356, 362, 344 N.E.2d 831, 837 (1976). In construing a written contract, the express language found within the four corners of the instrum......
  • Commissioner of Labor v. Talbert Mfg. Co., 37A03-9109-CV-00267
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • June 16, 1992
    ...contract as if the statutory provision were expressly incorporated within the terms of the contract. Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation v. Moll (1976) 264 Ind. 356, 344 N.E.2d 831; Ethyl Corporation v. Forcum-Lannom Associates, Inc. (1982) 4th Dist. Ind.App., 433 N.E.2d 1214. Accordi......
  • Boswell v. Lyon
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • March 24, 1980
    ...contract and apply a technical meaning. See Allied Structural Steel Company v. State, supra. See also Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation v. Moll (1976), 264 Ind. 356, 344 N.E.2d 831; Tastee-Freez Leasing Corporation v. Milwid, supra; General Insurance Company of America v. Hutchison ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT