Petition of Famous Brands, Inc., No. 14269

CourtSouth Dakota Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHOYT; HOYT, Circuit Judge, sitting for FOSHEIM
Citation347 N.W.2d 882
PartiesIn the Matter of the Petition of FAMOUS BRANDS, INC. to Obtain a Declaratory Ruling. . Considered on Briefs
Docket NumberNo. 14269
Decision Date16 February 1984

Page 882

347 N.W.2d 882
In the Matter of the Petition of FAMOUS BRANDS, INC. to
Obtain a Declaratory Ruling.
No. 14269.
Supreme Court of South Dakota.
Considered on Briefs Feb. 16, 1984.
Decided April 25, 1984.

Page 883

Jeremiah D. Murphy, John R. McDowell and Thomas J. Welk of Boyce, Murphy, McDowell & Greenfield, Sioux Falls, for intervenors-appellees.

William Taylor of Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith, P.C., Sioux Falls, for appellant.

HOYT, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from a judgment of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Secretary of Revenue (Secretary) that SDCL 35-4-5.1 and SDCL 35-4-5.5 precluded a renewal of a wholesale liquor license to Famous Brands, Inc. (appellant). We reverse.

The factual background of the controversy is refreshingly simple. Appellant filed a petition to obtain a declaratory ruling pursuant to SDCL 1-26-15 and ARSD 64:01:01:08 as to the applicability of SDCL 35-4-5.1 and SDCL 35-4-5.5 to the proposed renewal of the appellant's wholesale liquor license. SoDak Distributing Company and Sioux Falls Wholesale (Appellees/intervenors) petitioned for intervention, and on stipulation were admitted as parties.

Under the declaratory ruling procedure, the Secretary was to assume the following fact scenario:

Famous Brands, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson Brothers Wholesale Liquor Company, an alcoholic beverage licensee in five other states. Famous Brands, Inc. holds two wholesale liquor licenses in South Dakota; one in Sioux Falls, and the other in Rapid City. Johnson Brothers Wholesale Liquor Company is the owner of 100 percent of the stock of the United Sales Distilling Company, a rectifier, with a plant located in the State of Minnesota. Products from this plant are sold in part to Famous Brands, Inc. in South Dakota.

During all of 1970, Famous Brands, Inc. was the holder of a South Dakota wholesale liquor license. In 1970, Famous Brands, Inc. was owned by Schenley Industries, a manufacturer, distiller, rectifier, importer, and wholesaler of alcohol and alcohol products.

With the foregoing assumed facts in place, the Secretary was asked to determine whether the appellant's liquor license would be renewable in light of the provisions of SDCL 35-4-5.1 and SDCL 35-4-5.5. 1

Page 884

The appellant also proposed a second question concerning the effect of a divesture, which is rendered moot by this decision. From an adverse declaratory ruling by the Secretary, the appellant appealed to circuit court. The circuit court determined the Secretary reached the right result but for the wrong reasons, and affirmed.

The issue before this court is the propriety of the circuit court's affirming the Secretary's determination that SDCL 35-4-5.1 and SDCL 35-4-5.5 did not permit the renewal of a wholesale liquor license to appellant.

The authority for, and the conduct of this court in reviewing on appeal the circuit court's judgment under South Dakota Administrative Procedures Act (SDCL 1-26) is well established. 2

The construction of a statute is a question of law. 3 Therefore, the decisions of the administrative agency and the circuit court are both fully reviewable. We give great weight to agency interpretation of a statute only when the agency charged with its administration is given express statutory authority to interpret a statute necessary for its efficient administration.

The statutes which we are called upon to apply to the facts as proposed are as follows:

SDCL 35-4-5.1 provides:

No manufacturer, rectifier, distiller, jobber or distributor of distilled spirits, or a copartner or a majority stockholder of a parent or subsidiary corporation directly or indirectly interested in any of them shall be granted a wholesale license, or be granted a renewal of such a license under this chapter.

SDCL 35-4-5.5 provides:

The provisions of SDCL 35-4-5.1, as to the granting of a wholesale license and the renewal thereof shall not apply to any individual, copartnership or corporation who or which on July 1, 1970 was the holder of a wholesaler's license.

While it may be elementary, it behooves us to acknowledge that as a result of constitutional provisions distributing the powers of government among three departments, the legislative, executive, and judicial, courts have no legislative authority, and should avoid judicial legislation, a usurpation of legislative powers, or any entry into the legislative field. Thus it has been said that whatever its opinion may be as to the wisdom of a statute or the necessity for further legislation, the duty of a court is to apply the law objectively as found, and not to revise it. 73 Am.Jur.2d, Statutes Sec. 179 (1974).

There are some rules of construction which are fundamental to this case. The purpose of rules regarding the construction of statutes is to discover the true intention of the law, and said intention is to be ascertained by the court primarily from the language expressed in the statute. State Theatre Co. v. Smith, 276 N.W.2d 259, 263 (S.D.1979); State v. Williamson,

Page 885

87 S.D. 512, 515, 211 N.W.2d 182, 183 (1973).

In applying legislative enactments, we must accept them as written. The legislative intent is determined from what the legislature said, rather than from what we or others think it should have said. Elk Point Ind. School Dist. No. 3 v. State Comm'n on Education and Secondary Education, 85 S.D. 600, 605, 187 N.W.2d 666, 669 (1971).

While it is fundamental that we must strive to ascertain the real intention of the lawmakers, it is equally fundamental that we must confine ourselves to the intention as expressed in the language used. Ex parte Brown, 21 S.D. 515, 519, 114 N.W. 303, 305 (1907). To violate the rule against supplying...

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116 practice notes
  • Cimarron Ins. Co. v. Croyle, Nos. 17415
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • May 23, 1991
    ...and regulations prescribed and promulgated by the state legislature and insurance department. In Petition of Famous Brands, Inc., 347 N.W.2d 882, 884 (S.D.1984), this court stated the basic controlling constitutional While it may be elementary, it behooves us to acknowledge that as a result......
  • Fin-Ag v. Pipestone Livestock Auction, No. 23982.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • June 18, 2008
    ..."This [C]ourt assumes that statutes mean what they say and that legislators have said what they meant." Petition of Famous Brands, Inc., 347 N.W.2d 882, 885 (S.D.1984) (citing Crescent Electric Supply Co. v. Nerison, 89 S.D. 203, 210, 232 N.W.2d 76, 80 [¶ 57.] Moreover, the language mandati......
  • Benson v. State, No. 23492.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • January 24, 2006
    ...construction is that the Legislature said what it meant and meant what it said from the text of the statute. In re Famous Brands, Inc., 347 N.W.2d 882, 885 (S.D. 16. SDCL 43-13-1 provides in relevant part: The following land burdens, or servitudes upon land, may be granted and held, though ......
  • State v. Karlen, No. 20299
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • March 11, 1999
    ...have said what they meant." Mid-Century Ins. Co. v. Lyon, 1997 SD 50, p 9, 562 N.W.2d 888, 891 (citing In re Famous Brands, Inc., 347 N.W.2d 882, 885 ¶58 I find the language of SDCL 19-13-21.2 to be clear and unambiguous. The legislature certainly intended that the information revealed to a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
116 cases
  • Cimarron Ins. Co. v. Croyle, Nos. 17415
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • May 23, 1991
    ...and regulations prescribed and promulgated by the state legislature and insurance department. In Petition of Famous Brands, Inc., 347 N.W.2d 882, 884 (S.D.1984), this court stated the basic controlling constitutional While it may be elementary, it behooves us to acknowledge that as a result......
  • Fin-Ag v. Pipestone Livestock Auction, No. 23982.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • June 18, 2008
    ..."This [C]ourt assumes that statutes mean what they say and that legislators have said what they meant." Petition of Famous Brands, Inc., 347 N.W.2d 882, 885 (S.D.1984) (citing Crescent Electric Supply Co. v. Nerison, 89 S.D. 203, 210, 232 N.W.2d 76, 80 [¶ 57.] Moreover, the language mandati......
  • Benson v. State, No. 23492.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • January 24, 2006
    ...construction is that the Legislature said what it meant and meant what it said from the text of the statute. In re Famous Brands, Inc., 347 N.W.2d 882, 885 (S.D. 16. SDCL 43-13-1 provides in relevant part: The following land burdens, or servitudes upon land, may be granted and held, though ......
  • State v. Karlen, No. 20299
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • March 11, 1999
    ...have said what they meant." Mid-Century Ins. Co. v. Lyon, 1997 SD 50, p 9, 562 N.W.2d 888, 891 (citing In re Famous Brands, Inc., 347 N.W.2d 882, 885 ¶58 I find the language of SDCL 19-13-21.2 to be clear and unambiguous. The legislature certainly intended that the information revealed to a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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