Hodgson v. Hamilton Municipal Court, No. 7954.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
Citation349 F. Supp. 1125
Decision Date31 July 1972
PartiesJames D. HODGSON, Secretary of Labor, Plaintiff, v. HAMILTON MUNICIPAL COURT et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. 7954.

349 F. Supp. 1125

James D. HODGSON, Secretary of Labor, Plaintiff,
v.
HAMILTON MUNICIPAL COURT et al., Defendants.

No. 7954.

United States District Court, S. D. Ohio, W. D.

July 31, 1972.


349 F. Supp. 1126
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
349 F. Supp. 1127
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
349 F. Supp. 1128
Gregory B. Taylor, Dept. of Labor, Cleveland, Ohio, for plaintiff

John T. Willard, City Pros., Hamilton, Ohio, for defendants Hamilton Municipal Court, Richard W. Berridge and John T. Willard.

Gordon J. Wedig, Asst. City Sol., Cincinnati, Ohio, for defendants Hamilton County Municipal Court, all Judges and Clerk.

Robert R. Lowery, Cincinnati, Ohio, for amicus curiae Cincinnati Bar Assn.

Donald R. Stacey, Cincinnati, Ohio, for amicus curiae Cincinnati Legal Aid Society.

Daniel P. Carmichael, Cincinnati, Ohio, for amicus curiae Central Trust Co.

Charles S. Rawlings, Asst. Atty. Gen., Columbus, Ohio, for additional defendant, Atty. Gen., State of Ohio.

OPINION AND ORDER

PORTER, District Judge.

This case has been considered by this Court on the merits of plaintiff's request for a declaratory judgment and a permanent injunction. It was submitted upon the pleadings, evidence, and briefs, the parties having waived final hearing. The Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law and directs the entry of the following final order:

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. On March 19, 1971, a decision was rendered by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio (Thomas, J.) holding that certain portions of the Ohio garnishment statutes were preempted by the restrictions set forth in Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 1671-77), and enjoining the Cleveland Municipal Court, its judges and clerk of court, from continuing to require and use forms for the processing of garnishments in violation of the federal restrictions. Hodgson v. Cleveland Municipal Court, D.C., 326 F.Supp. 419.

2. On or about April 19, 1971, defendant Richard W. Berridge, Judge of Hamilton Municipal Court, sent a form letter to numerous business firms in Hamilton, Ohio, advising that his court intended to continue to process garnishments in accordance with the standards prescribed in the Ohio statutes rather than the federally prescribed standards of the Consumer Credit Protection Act.

3. On May 4, 1971, the plaintiff Secretary of Labor filed this action against defendants Hamilton Municipal Court, Judge Berridge and John T. Willard, Clerk of Court, seeking a declaration that the Ohio statutory garnishment provisions enforced by defendants were in violation of the federal Act, and a preliminary and permanent injunction against further violation of the Act by these defendants.

4. On May 10, 1971, the plaintiff amended his complaint, under the provisions of Rule 15(a), F.R.Civ.P., to include the Hamilton County Municipal Court, its judges and clerk of court, as additional parties defendant. The basis for this amendment was information received by the Regional Attorney, United States Department of Labor, indicating that certain judges of that Court were continuing to observe the Ohio statutory garnishment standards rather than those mandated by the Consumer Credit Protection Act.

349 F. Supp. 1129

5. On September 23, 1971, following a hearing on plaintiff's prayer for a preliminary injunction, this Court issued an order preliminary enjoining the Hamilton Municipal Court, its judge and clerk, from continued adherence to the Ohio statutory garnishment standards, and requiring the use of forms of "Affidavit and Order and Notice of Garnishment and Answer of Employer" such as those ordered in the Cleveland Municipal Court decision (326 F.Supp., at 438).

6. Until temporarily enjoined by this Court, the forms for processing of garnishments used by defendants, Hamilton Municipal Court, its judge and clerk, conformed to § 1911.332, Ohio Revised Code, and thereby authorized the garnishment, in the case of a one-week pay period, of at least 70% of one week's disposable earnings, that being equivalent to 17½% of the earnings for a prior month. Said Hamilton Municipal Court, its judge and clerk, now say they have always been and are now willing to comply with the federal law as declared by this Court or the higher federal courts. From this we infer that the Judge of the Hamilton Municipal Court has abandoned earlier statements to the effect that regardless of what this Court decided, he was going to let creditors file garnishment proceedings once a week. (See defendant's final trial brief, page 4.)

7. On July 15, 1970, the Governor of Ohio made application to the United States Department of Labor for an exemption for the garnishment laws of Ohio from the requirements of § 303(a)1 of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, which restrict the amounts which state or federal courts may permit to be garnished from personal earnings of debtors. This application was made pursuant to § 3052 of the Consumer Credit Protection Act which authorizes the Secretary of Labor to exempt from the restrictions of § 303(a) the garnishment laws of any State where he determines that such laws provide restrictions on garnishment substantially similar to those provided in § 303(a).

8. On November 25, 1970, the Secretary of Labor, acting through his duly authorized delegate, Robert D. Moran, Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, denied the application of the State of Ohio, principally on the ground that certain provisions of Ohio garnishment law do not provide restrictions substantially similar to those in 15 U.S. C. § 1673(a).

9. As determined in the Area Wage Surveys of the Bureau of Labor Statistics for Ohio metropolitan areas, BLS Bulletin 1625-90, Table B-17, the following table represents for the Standard Metropolitan Areas in Ohio the "percent distribution of plant and office workers by frequency of wage payment, July 1968 through July 1969."

 Table B-17. Frequency of Wage Payment—All Industries
                 PLANT WORKERS OFFICE WORKERS
                -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Metropolitan Bi- Semi- Other Bi- Semi- Other
                Area Wkly. wkly. Mthly. Mthly. freq. Wkly. wkly. mthly. Mthly. freq
                -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Akron 91 8 1 - - 13 17 70 (2) -
                Cincinnati 96 3 1 - - 58 25 18 - -
                Cleveland 66 31 3 - (2) 18 41 38 1 -
                Columbus 86 12 1 1 - 31 23 28 15 3
                Dayton 98 2 (2) - - 59 14 26 1 -
                Toledo 92 7 (2) - - 24 30 46 - -
                -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                (2) Less than 0.5 percent
                
349 F. Supp. 1130

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

1. Jurisdiction of this action is conferred upon this Court by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1334 and 1337. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, the Court has original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds $10,000 and arises under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States. This case arises under Article I, § 8, Cl. 3, Regulation of Commerce, and Cl. 4, Bankruptcy, U.S. Constitution. It also arises under a federal statute (15 U.S.C. §§ 1671-77, Consumer Credit Protection Act). The total garnishments processed annually in the Hamilton Municipal Court involve a sum exceeding $10,000.

2. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1334, the Court has original jurisdiction of all matters and proceedings in bankruptcy. One of the congressional findings set forth in the Consumer Credit Protection Act is that great disparities in state garnishment laws have "destroyed the uniformity of the bankruptcy laws" (15 U.S.C. § 1671(a)(3)); see Hodgson v. Cleveland Municipal Court, supra, at 423.

3. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1337, the Court has original jurisdiction of cases arising under laws regulating interstate commerce. The Consumer Credit Protection Act is such a law.

4. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2201 the Court has power to grant a declaratory judgment.

5. The restrictions on garnishment contained in Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 1671-77) are predicated on the powers granted the Congress in Article I, § 8 of the Constitution to regulate commerce and to establish uniform bankruptcy laws and become effective to supersede state laws in conflict therewith by virtue of the Supremacy Clause in Article VI of the Constitution.

6. In enacting the federal garnishment restrictions Congress made the following findings (15 U.S.C. § 1671):

"(a) The Congress finds:
"(1) The unrestricted garnishment of compensation due for personal services encourages the making of predatory extensions of credit. Such extensions of credit divert money into excessive credit payments and thereby hinder the production and flow of goods in interstate commerce.
"(2) The application of garnishment as a creditors' remedy frequently results in loss of employment by the debtor, and the resulting disruption of employment, production, and consumption constitutes a substantial burden on interstate commerce.
"(3) The great disparities among the laws of the several States relating to garnishment have, in effect, destroyed the uniformity of the bankruptcy laws and frustrated the purposes thereof in many areas of the country.
* * * * * *
"(b) On the basis of the findings stated in subsection (a) of this section, the Congress determines that the provisions of this subchapter are necessary and proper for the purpose of carrying into execution the powers of the Congress to regulate commerce and to establish uniform bankruptcy laws."

These findings were based on evidence placed before Congress during extensive hearings by a number of committees in both Houses of Congress and in the course of the debates preceding the enactment of the Consumer Credit Protection Act.3

349 F. Supp. 1131

The findings of Congress as stated in § 301 of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (15 U.S.C. § 1671) have a rational basis. That being so, they are accepted by the Courts....

To continue reading

Request your trial
22 practice notes
  • In re Robinson, Bankruptcy No. 95-71118-TBB-7. Adversary No. 96-00525.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Eleventh Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Northern District of Alabama
    • September 29, 1999
    ...for all individuals to at least the extent accorded by 15 U.S.C.S. § 1673(a). See, e.g., Hodgson v. Hamilton Municipal Court, 349 F.Supp. 1125, 1132-1133 (S.D.Ohio 1972); Hodgson v. Cleveland Municipal Court, 27 Ohio Misc. 121, 326 F.Supp. 419, 429 B. Alabama Limitations On Garnishment Proc......
  • Marshall v. District of Columbia Government, Nos. 75-1651
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • May 23, 1977
    ...law on the issue of whether section 1337 jurisdiction extends to bankruptcy issues. See, however, Hodgson v. Hamilton Municipal Court, 349 F.Supp. 1125 (S.D.Ohio 1972), in which injunctive relief was sought against enforcement of Ohio's statutory garnishment provisions on the grounds that t......
  • McLellan v. Mississippi Power & Light Co., No. 73-3226.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • April 21, 1976
    ...L.Ed.2d 277 (1970). 22 See Hodgson v. Cleveland Municipal Court, 326 F.Supp. 419 (N.D.Ohio, 1971); Hodgson v. Hamilton Municipal Court, 349 F.Supp. 1125 (S.D.Ohio, 1972). Cf. 14 A.L.R.Fed. 23 The statute in Fox provided criminal penalties for certain individuals who, within three months pri......
  • Larsen v. Gallogly, Civ. A. No. 5117.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Rhode Island
    • July 16, 1973
    ...on other grounds 401 U.S. 371 (1971); Rousselle v. Perez, 293 F.Supp. 298 (E.D.La. 1968); see also Hodgson v. Hamilton Municipal Court, 349 F.Supp. 1125 (S. D.Ohio 1972); United States v. Clark, 249 F.Supp. 720 (S.D.Ala.1965) (3-judge court). A preventive remedy does not shackle a judge in ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
22 cases
  • In re Robinson, Bankruptcy No. 95-71118-TBB-7. Adversary No. 96-00525.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Eleventh Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Northern District of Alabama
    • September 29, 1999
    ...for all individuals to at least the extent accorded by 15 U.S.C.S. § 1673(a). See, e.g., Hodgson v. Hamilton Municipal Court, 349 F.Supp. 1125, 1132-1133 (S.D.Ohio 1972); Hodgson v. Cleveland Municipal Court, 27 Ohio Misc. 121, 326 F.Supp. 419, 429 B. Alabama Limitations On Garnishment Proc......
  • Marshall v. District of Columbia Government, Nos. 75-1651
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • May 23, 1977
    ...law on the issue of whether section 1337 jurisdiction extends to bankruptcy issues. See, however, Hodgson v. Hamilton Municipal Court, 349 F.Supp. 1125 (S.D.Ohio 1972), in which injunctive relief was sought against enforcement of Ohio's statutory garnishment provisions on the grounds that t......
  • McLellan v. Mississippi Power & Light Co., No. 73-3226.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • April 21, 1976
    ...L.Ed.2d 277 (1970). 22 See Hodgson v. Cleveland Municipal Court, 326 F.Supp. 419 (N.D.Ohio, 1971); Hodgson v. Hamilton Municipal Court, 349 F.Supp. 1125 (S.D.Ohio, 1972). Cf. 14 A.L.R.Fed. 23 The statute in Fox provided criminal penalties for certain individuals who, within three months pri......
  • Larsen v. Gallogly, Civ. A. No. 5117.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Rhode Island
    • July 16, 1973
    ...on other grounds 401 U.S. 371 (1971); Rousselle v. Perez, 293 F.Supp. 298 (E.D.La. 1968); see also Hodgson v. Hamilton Municipal Court, 349 F.Supp. 1125 (S. D.Ohio 1972); United States v. Clark, 249 F.Supp. 720 (S.D.Ala.1965) (3-judge court). A preventive remedy does not shackle a judge in ......
  • 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