Miami Laundry Co. v. Florida Dry Cleaning & Laundry Bd.

Citation134 Fla. 1,183 So. 759
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Decision Date27 July 1938

Rehearing Denied Sept. 20, 1938.

En Banc.

Suit by the Miami Laundry Company against the Florida Dry Cleaning &amp Laundry Board, an official board of the state of Florida challenging the constitutional validity of the act designed to regulate the cleaning, dyeing, pressing, and laundry industries, wherein numerous parties were permitted to intervene both as complainants and as defendants. From a decree upholding the validity of the act against all attacks made, and dismissing the bill of complaint, the complainants appeal.

Decree affirmed.

BROWN J., and ELLIS, C.J., dissenting.

On Petition for Rehearing. Appeal from Circuit Court, Duval County; DeWitt T. Gray, Judge.


Curry & Vann and L. Earl Curry, all of Miami, and Evan T. Evans, of Jacksonville, for appellants.

Walsh, Beckham & Ellis, of Miami, Marks, Marks, Holt, Gray & Yates, and W. McL. Christie, all of Jacksonville, Hampton, Jordan & Lazonby, of Gainesville, and Cary D. Landis, Atty. Gen., and Lawrence A. Truett, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellees.

Maxwell & Cobbey and Hampton, Bull & Crom, all of Tampa, and Whitfield & Whitfield, of Tallahassee, E. F. P. Brigham, of Miami, and Charles E. Davis, of Madison, as amici curiae.


TERRELL Justice.

The Legislature of 1937 enacted Chapter 17894, Laws of Florida, designed to regulate the cleaning, dyeing, pressing, and laundry industries. In November, 1937, Miami Laundry Company, as complainant, filed its bill of complaint in the Circuit Court of Duval County challenging the constitutional validity of said act, charging that it was arbitrary, unwarranted, unnecessary, and unreasonable.

The Florida Dry Cleaning and Laundry Board having been named as defendant filed its answer in which it denied the material allegations of the bill of complaint and asserted the constitutionality of said act. Numerous parties were permitted to intervene both as complainants and defendants. By stipulation, the cause was submitted to the Chancellor on the pleadings and affidavits who in due course entered his final decree upholding the validity of the act against all attacks made and dismissed the bill of complaint. This appeal is from the final decree.

Six questions are posed for our determination but they all turn on the constitutionality vel non of Chapter 17894, Acts of 1937.

The first legislation on the subject matter of the act in this State was Chapter 16079, Acts of 1935, some phases of which were considered in the following cases: Economy Cash & Carry Cleaners v. Cleaning, Dyeing, & Pressing Board, 128 Fla. 408, 174 So. 829; Coleman, Sheriff, v. State ex rel. Lichtenstein, 128 Fla. 408, 174 So. 829; Bon Ton Cleaners & Dyers, Inc., v. Cleaning, Dyeing, & Pressing Board, 128 Fla. 533, 535, 176 So. 55.

The act under review is different from the 1935 Act considered in the foregoing cases in that it contains a legislative finding of evils that have become prevalent in the industries attempted to be regulated and the need for the regulation complained of. It also provides for the appointment by the Governor of the Florida Dry Cleaning and Laundry Board composed of seven members, defines their duties, authorizes them to fix a schedule of prices to be charged for services in the industries affected, but requires them prior to the fixing of such charges to advertise and hold public hearings to advise themselves of what factors should determine reasonable charges to be made so as to meet the requirements of due process, Section 6 on this point being as follows:

'In considering prices the Board shall take into consideration the rights of the general public the reasonable and necessary expense and overhead of the industry herein regulated, in rendering efficient and sanitary service, with modern equipment and efficient operation, together with the allowing for such reasonable overhead expense including reasonable compensation for labor and the fixing of such reasonable charges as will permit the business herein regulated to be conducted so as to provide the public with safe and sanitary service at a reasonable price while enabling the efficient proprietor of such business to continue in business with a fair return on the actual reasonable investment made therein. Different prices may be reasonable fixed for different trade areas as the same may be established by the Board.'

The act carries ample provision for appeal from the orders of the Board, provides for prompt payment and adjustment of claims by those engaged in the dry cleaning and laundry business and makes certified copies of the orders of the Board admissible as prima facie evidence of their reasonableness. Its provisions are made applicable to counties of more than 17,500 population.

The major assault on the act is directed to that part of Section 6 here quoted relating to price fixing in the industries affected, it being contended that such provisions unduly restrict the liberty of contract granted to citizens of Florida by the State and Federal Constitutions, Const.Fla. Declaration of Rights, § 17; U.S.C.A.Const. art. 1, § 10, cl. 1.

To support the charge of invalidity, Appellants rely on Adkins v. Children's Hospital, 261 U.S. 525, 43 S.Ct. 394, 67 L.Ed. 785, 24 A.L.R. 1238; State ex rel. Fulton v. Ives, 123 Fla. 401, 167 So. 394; Economy Cash & Carry Cleaners, Inc., v. Cleaning, Dyeing, & Pressing Board, 128 Fla. 408, 174 So. 829; Kent Stores v. Wilentz, D.C., 14 F.Supp. 1; Becker v. State, 7 W.W. Harr. 454, 37 Del. 454, 185 A. 92, and City of Mobile v. Rouse, 233 Ala. 622, 173 So. 266, 111 A.L.R. 349.

These cases have been examined and it would be folly to assert that they do not aid Appellant's contention; at the same time, some of them deal wih situations materially different from what we have here, and as to others, the doctrine announced in them has been specifically or inferentially overruled. We pretermit a discussion of the philosophy back of these cases.

Liberty of contract and the right to use one's property as he wills are fundamental constitutional guaranties, but the degree of such guaranties must be determined in the light of social and economic conditions that prevail at the time the guaranty is proposed to be exercised rather than at the time the Constitution was approved securing it; otherwise the power of the legislature becomes static and helpless to regulate and extend them to new conditions that constantly arise.

Constitutional guaranties have never been thought to be immune from regulation or limitation in the interest of the common good. When limited, the process has been evolutionary rather than spontaneous. Regulation might be appropriately denied today that could be just as appropriately granted tomorrow. When the exercise of a constitutional guaranty is limited to such a small sector of the population that the rights of the public will be protected by unrestricted competition, the legislature will not generally attempt to regulate, but when large numbers become involved, many of whom are unequal in the race, and their economic security becomes imperiled through the exercise of what may appear to be the constitutional right of another, then the legislature has not hesitated to step in and regulate.

The factors determining the regulation of a trade, business, or profession are for legislative determination but they have generally been actuated by public necessity. If done in the exercise of the police power, the health, morals, and welfare must be involved. It has also been said that the business regulated must be affected by or clothed with a public interest, but regardless of the basis on which done, if public necessity requires it would be contrary to every concept of social justice to hold that the legislature could not grant relief. One may 'Robinson Crusoe like' isolate himself and thereby enjoy the complete unrestrained exercise of his constitutional guaranties but the moment he becomes a unit in organized society, he surrenders a measure of his freedom and the more thickly that society becomes populated and the more complex its means of making a living become, the more freedom he must make up his mind to surrender.

There is no magic in the phrase, 'clothed with or affected with a public interest.' Any business is affected by a public interest when it reaches such proportions that the interest of the public demands that it be reasonably regulated to conserve the rights of the public and when this point is reached, the liberty of contract must necessarily be restricted. If the regulation involves the question of price limitation, it will be upheld unless clearly shown to be arbitrary, discriminating, or beyond the power of the legislature to enforce. Nebbia v. New York, 291 U.S. 502, 54 S.Ct. 505, 78 L.Ed. 940, 89 A.L.R. 1469; Borden's Farm Products Co., Inc., v. Ten Eyck, 297 U.S. 251, 56 S.Ct. 453, 80 L.Ed. 669; West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, 300 U.S. 379, 57 S.Ct. 578, 81 L.Ed. 703, 108 A.L.R. 1330; Highland Farms Dairy v. Agnew, 300 U.S. 608, 57 S.Ct. 549, 81 L.Ed. 835; Miami Home Milk Producers Association v. Milk Control Board, 124 Fla. 797, 169 So. 541. See, also, inferences from Economy Cash & Carry Cleaners, Inc., v. Cleaning, Dyeing & Pressing Board, supra; Coleman, Sheriff, v. State ex rel. Lichtenstein, supra, and Bon Ton Cleaners & Dyers, Inc., v. Cleaning, Dyeing, & Pressing Board, supra.

These cases involve some element of the question of price fixing and support the rule that when the conditions in a business become such that the welfare of the public will not be adequately protected by unrestricted competition, or if it be shown that ruinous and...

To continue reading

Request your trial
51 cases
  • State Bd. of Dry Cleaners v. Thrift-D-Lux Cleaners
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • March 10, 1953
    ...... permits the members of the Board to have access to cleaning establishments; Section 9562 provides for rules of ..., of the California Administrative Doce; Article 6, Laundry, Dry Cleaning, and Dyeing Industry, Chapter 5, Division of ...         Although the Florida Supreme Court in a later decision, Miami Laundry Co. v. ......
  • In re Jet 1 Center, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Eleventh Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Middle District of Florida
    • February 15, 2005
    ...291 U.S. 502, 539, 54 S.Ct. 505, 78 L.Ed. 940 (1934) (price controls within the police power); Miami Laundry v. Florida Dry Cleaning and Laundry Board, 134 Fla. 1, 9-10, 183 So. 759 (1938) (price controls may be promulgated if determined to be in the public The Circuit Court of Collier Coun......
  • South Atlantic S.S. Co. of Delaware v. Tutson
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • July 21, 1939
    ......S. CO. OF DELAWARE v. TUTSON et al. Florida Supreme Court July 21, 1939 . . Proceeding. ... Fla. 515, 109 So. 442; Miami Laundry Co. v. Florida. Dry [139 Fla. 419] Cleaning & ......
  • Ely Lilly & Co v. Saunders
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • September 27, 1939
    ...definitive to distinguish the field of application as noted in the annotation to Miami Laundry Co. v. Florida Dry Cleaning & Laundry Board, 134 Fla. 1, 183 So. 759, 119 A.L.R. 956, 985. The subject seems of little application here, since the same court in Old Dearborn Distributing Co. v. Se......
  • 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