Graham v. Worthington, No. 52330

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtRAWLINGS; GARFIELD; THORNTON; SNELL; LARSON
Citation259 Iowa 845,146 N.W.2d 626
Docket NumberNo. 52330
Decision Date15 November 1966
PartiesJ. Wesley GRAHAM, Appellant, v. Lorne R. WORTHINGTON, Auditor of State for the State of Iowa, Paul Franzenburg, Treasurer of State for the State of Iowa, Marvin R. Selden, Jr., State Comptroller of the State of Iowa, in their official capacities and also collectively and individually as the 'State Appeal Board' as defined in Section 23.1 of the Code of Iowa, and Lawrence F. Scalise, Attorney General of the State of Iowa, Appellees, The Iowa State Bar Association, Intervenor-Appellee.

Page 626

146 N.W.2d 626
259 Iowa 845
J. Wesley GRAHAM, Appellant,
v.
Lorne R. WORTHINGTON, Auditor of State for the State of Iowa, Paul Franzenburg, Treasurer of State for the State of Iowa, Marvin R. Selden, Jr., State Comptroller of the State of Iowa, in their official capacities and also collectively and individually as the 'State Appeal Board' as defined in Section 23.1 of the Code of Iowa, and Lawrence F. Scalise, Attorney General of the State of Iowa, Appellees,
The Iowa State Bar Association, Intervenor-Appellee.
No. 52330.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
Nov. 15, 1966.

[259 Iowa 849]

Page 630

Herrick, Langdon, Sandblom & Belin, Des Moines, for appellant.

Lawrence F. Scalise, Atty. Gen., Joseph S. Brick, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Wade Clarke, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellees.

Swift, Brown, Schaetzle & Randall, Des Moines, for intervenor-appellee.

RAWLINGS, Justice.

By declaratory judgment proceedings and for injunctive relief plaintiff attacks the constitutionality and legality of chapter 79, Laws of the Sixty-First General Assembly (chapter 25A, Code, 1966), designated the Iowa Tort Claims Act.

Prior to enactment of chapter 25A, Code, the doctrine of governmental immunity was held by us to be applicable to the state And all of its political subdivisions. We also decided not to interfere and by judicial decision overrule a public policy more appropriately left to the legislature. Montandon v. Hargrave [259 Iowa 850] Const. Co., 256 Iowa 1297, 1299--1300, 130 N.W.2d 659.

Now the legislature has acted and plaintiff challenges the results obtained.

By this legislative enactment provision is made for filing, passing upon, allowing and paying claims against the State of Iowa for money only, on account of damage to or loss of property or on account of personal injury or death by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the state while acting within the scope or office of his employment.

Defendants were joined by intervenor-appellee in denying unconstitutionality of the subject Act.

The trial court held adverse to plaintiff and he appealed.

In asserting propositions relied on for reversal he contends the trial court erred in holding the Act did not violate the following provisions of the Constitution of Iowa: Article I, section 6; Article III, section 1; Article III, section 24; Article III, section 29; Article III, section 31; and Article VII. He also claims the Act violates Amendment 5, and Amendment 14, section 1, Constitution of the United States. Plaintiff thus assumes a heavy burden.

I. Our review is de novo. Section 624.4, Code, 1962, and Rule 344, R.C.P.

Page 631

Since the case was submitted upon a stipulation as to standing of the parties, pleadings and briefs, no findings of fact are here involved. We accordingly concern ourselves with the legal issues presented.

It is of course understood the legislature may enact any law desired provided it is not clearly prohibited by some provision of the Federal or State Constitution. Tice v. Wilmington Chemical Corporation, Iowa, 141 N.W.2d 616, 623; Bulova Watch Co. v. Robinson Wholesale Co., 252 Iowa 740, 746, 108 N.W.2d 365; and Dickinson v. Porter, 240 Iowa 393, 399, 35 N.W.2d 66.

And in Green v. City of Mt. Pleasant, 256 Iowa 1184, 1196, 131 N.W.2d 5, this court held: The judicial branch of the government has no power to determine whether legislative Acts are wise or unwise, nor has it the power to declare an Act void unless it is plainly and without doubt repugnant to some [259 Iowa 851] provision of the Constitution. There is no presumption against constitutional validity of a statute. Every reasonable presumption must be called to support the Act. A challenging party must overcome these presumptions and negative every reasonable basis which will sustain the statute. See also Kruck v. Needles, Iowa, 144 N.W.2d 296, 301--302; Powers v. McCullough, Iowa, 140 N.W.2d 378, 383--384; Steinberg-Baum & Co. v. Countryman, 247 Iowa 923, 929, 77 N.W.2d 15; and Knorr v. Beardsley, 240 Iowa 828, 839, 38 N.W.2d 236.

Then in State v. Fairmont Creamery Co., 153 Iowa 702, 711, 133 N.W. 895, 42 L.R.A.,N.S., 821, we said: 'The Constitution was intended to announce certain basic principles to serve as the perpetual foundation of the state. It was not intended to be a limitation upon its healthful development, nor to be an obstruction to its progress. New days bring new problems. Legislation must meet these problems as they come; otherwise our plan of government must prove inadequate. Manifestly, we ought not to be swift to adopt such a technical or strained construction of the Constitution as would unduly impair the efficiency of the Legislature to meet its unavoidable responsibilities.' See also Diamond Auto Sales, Inc. v. Erbe, 251 Iowa 1330, 1336, 105 N.W.2d 650, and Miller v. Schuster, 227 Iowa 1005, 1014--1015, 289 N.W. 702.

Also, if the constitutionality of an Act is merely doubtful or fairly debatable, the courts will not interfere. Long v. Board of Supervisors, Iowa, 142 N.W.2d 378, 381, and Stewart v. Board of Supervisors, 30 Iowa 9, 13--19.

II. Plaintiff asserts a violation of Article III, section 29 of the Constitution of Iowa in that title to the subject Act refers only to claims against the state, and liability of the state, while the Act itself subjects the state to liability for, (1) torts of officers, agents and employees of state agencies, and (2) all political subdivisions of the state such as cities, towns, school districts and counties.

The title of the Act now identified as chapter 25A is as follows: 'AN ACT to create and establish a state tort claims Act; defining terms and conferring upon the state appeal board on [259 Iowa 852] behalf of the state the power to determine certain claims against the state; permitting the state to be sued and waiving the state's immunity from liability to the extent provided herein; conferring jurisdiction in the district court to hear, determine, and render judgment; and generally providing for the practice and procedure to establish liability of the state on tort claims.'

Article III, section 29, provides in part: 'Every act shall embrace but one subject, and matters properly connected therewith; which subject shall be expressed in the title.'

In Long v. Board of Supervisors, Iowa, 142 N.W.2d 378, 381, we held Article III, section 29, of our Constitution should be liberally construed so one Act may embrace

Page 632

all matters reasonably connected with the subject expressed in the title and not utterly incongruous thereto. Also it is of no importance that a law contains matters which might be and usually are contained in separate Acts or would be more logically classified as belonging to different subjects provided only they are germane to the general subject of the Act in which they are put. And see Green v. City of Mt. Pleasant, 256 Iowa 1184, 1198--1199, 131 N.W.2d 5.

It is to us evident the subject Act expressly waives the common law governmental immunity of the State of Iowa as to certain claims for the torts of officers, agents or employees of the state or of any department, agency, board, bureau or commission of the state, together with certain governmental corporations as defined by the Act. Sections 25A.2(5), and 25A.4, Code, 1966; Dalehite v. United States, 346 U.S. 15, 17, 73 S.Ct. 956, 959, 97 L.Ed. 1427; Jones v. United States, D.C., 126 F.Supp. 10, 12, aff'd. 97 U.S.App.D.C. 81, 228 F.2d 52; 81 C.J.S. States § 130b, page 1139; and 49 Am.Jur., States, Territories, and Dependencies, section 76, page 288. See also Boyer v. Iowa High School Athletic Ass'n, 256 Iowa 337, 341--348, 127 N.W.2d 606.

It is also apparent the matter of payment is logically a part of those provisions of the title of the Act conferring jurisdiction to determine certain claims; to hear, determine and render judgment; and generally providing procedures to establish liability [259 Iowa 853] of the state on tort claims. Surely no reasonable person would be deceived or misled as to disposition of claims determined or judgments rendered. The self-evident purpose of the Act is to provide an orderly method by which to compensate those tortiously damaged by any officer, agent or employee of the state as defined by the Act. See section 25A.4, Code, 1966; Long v. Board of Supervisors, Iowa, 142 N.W.2d 378, 384; and Knorr v. Beardsley, 240 Iowa 828, 856--859, 38 N.W.2d 236.

And since the state is known to function only by and through its officers, agents or employees, their inclusion within the body of the Act is certainly germane to and not incongruous with the general subject expressed in the title.

III. Plaintiff urges the phrase 'instrumentalities or agencies of the State of Iowa' includes cities and towns, school districts and counties but the title of the Act does not so disclose. We cannot agree with this interpretation.

Ordinarily political subdivisions of the state are classified as agencies or arms of the state, more particularly identified as municipalities or quasi-corporations. See Boyer v. Iowa High School Athletic Ass'n, 256 Iowa 337, 339--340, 127 N.W.2d 606; Hanson v. City of Cresco, 132 Iowa 533, 535--542, 109 N.W. 1109; Ciulla v. State, 191 Misc. 528, 77 N.Y.S.2d 545; 49 Ma.Jur., States, Territories, and Dependencies, section 101, page 317; 62 C.J.S. Municipal Corporations § 4, page 74; 37 Am.Jur., Municipal Corporations, section 6, page 623; 78 C.J.S. Schools and School Districts § 25, page 659; 47 Am.Jur., Schools, section 12, page 304; 20 C.J.S. Counties § 4, page 759; 20 Am.Jur.2d, Supp., Counties, section 4, page 186; 11 Drake L.Rev. 79; and Charles S. Rhyne on Municipal Law, (1957), sections 1.1--1.4, pages 1--8, and section 4.6, page 68.

However, this court has repeatedly held the legislature may be its own lexicographer. Hill v. Electronics Corp. of America, 253 Iowa 581, 587, 113 N.W.2d 313; Cowman v. Hansen, 250 Iowa 358, 363, 92 N.W.2d 682; Dingman v. City of...

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83 practice notes
  • Catholic Charities of Archdiocese of Dubuque v. Zalesky, No. 2--56720
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • August 29, 1975
    ...declare an Act void unless it is plainly and without doubt repugnant to some provision of the Constitution. Graham v. Worthington, supra, 259 Iowa 845, 850, 851, 146 N.W.2d 626, IV. As an additional preface to our consideration of the constitutional issues here presented an evaluation of St......
  • Megee v. Barnes, No. 53015
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 5, 1968
    ...471--472, 101 N.W.2d 711, 714; North Iowa Steel Co. v. Staley, 253 Iowa 355, 357, 112 N.W.2d 364, 365. See also Graham v. Worthington, 259 Iowa 845, 855, 146 N.W.2d 626, Immunity of the state from suit without its consent is widely recognized. We refer to some of the general statements of t......
  • Lee Enterprises, Inc. v. Iowa State Tax Commission, WMT-T
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 12, 1968
    ...258 Iowa 1278, 142 N.W.2d 378 (1966); Green v. City of Mt. Pleasant, 256 Iowa 1184, 131 N.W.2d 5 (1964); Graham v. Worthington, 259 Iowa 845, 146 N.W.2d 626 (1966); Knorr v. Beardsley, 240 Iowa 828, 38 N.W.2d 236 (1949); State v. Talerico, 227 Iowa 1315, 290 N.W. 660 (1940); State v. Social......
  • Board of Sup'rs of Linn County v. Department of Revenue, Nos. 2-58954 and 2-59663
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 22, 1978
    ...statute can be sustained. Finally, courts will not interfere when constitutionality is only doubtful or debatable. Graham v. Worthington, 259 Iowa 845, 850-851, 146 N.W.2d 626, 630-631 (1966). See also Chicago Title Ins. Co. v. Huff, 256 N.W.2d 17, 23-25 (Iowa 1977); Avery v. Peterson, 243 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
83 cases
  • Catholic Charities of Archdiocese of Dubuque v. Zalesky, No. 2--56720
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • August 29, 1975
    ...declare an Act void unless it is plainly and without doubt repugnant to some provision of the Constitution. Graham v. Worthington, supra, 259 Iowa 845, 850, 851, 146 N.W.2d 626, IV. As an additional preface to our consideration of the constitutional issues here presented an evaluation of St......
  • Megee v. Barnes, No. 53015
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 5, 1968
    ...471--472, 101 N.W.2d 711, 714; North Iowa Steel Co. v. Staley, 253 Iowa 355, 357, 112 N.W.2d 364, 365. See also Graham v. Worthington, 259 Iowa 845, 855, 146 N.W.2d 626, Immunity of the state from suit without its consent is widely recognized. We refer to some of the general statements of t......
  • Lee Enterprises, Inc. v. Iowa State Tax Commission, WMT-T
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 12, 1968
    ...258 Iowa 1278, 142 N.W.2d 378 (1966); Green v. City of Mt. Pleasant, 256 Iowa 1184, 131 N.W.2d 5 (1964); Graham v. Worthington, 259 Iowa 845, 146 N.W.2d 626 (1966); Knorr v. Beardsley, 240 Iowa 828, 38 N.W.2d 236 (1949); State v. Talerico, 227 Iowa 1315, 290 N.W. 660 (1940); State v. Social......
  • Board of Sup'rs of Linn County v. Department of Revenue, Nos. 2-58954 and 2-59663
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 22, 1978
    ...statute can be sustained. Finally, courts will not interfere when constitutionality is only doubtful or debatable. Graham v. Worthington, 259 Iowa 845, 850-851, 146 N.W.2d 626, 630-631 (1966). See also Chicago Title Ins. Co. v. Huff, 256 N.W.2d 17, 23-25 (Iowa 1977); Avery v. Peterson, 243 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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