Powers v. McCullough, Nos. 51796

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtRAWLINGS
Citation140 N.W.2d 378,258 Iowa 738
PartiesRichard POWERS, Plaintiff, v. Honorable W. A. McCULLOUGH, a Judge of the Municipal Court of the City of Clinton, Clinton County, Iowa, Defendant. Richard POWERS and G. W. Danielson, Plaintiffs, v. Honorable W. A.McCULLOUGH, a Judge of the Municipal Court of the City of Clinton, Clinton County, Iowa, Defendant.
Decision Date08 February 1966
Docket NumberNos. 51796,51797

Page 378

140 N.W.2d 378
258 Iowa 738
Richard POWERS, Plaintiff,
v.
Honorable W. A. McCULLOUGH, a Judge of the Municipal Court of the City of Clinton, Clinton County, Iowa, Defendant.
Richard POWERS and G. W. Danielson, Plaintiffs,
v.
Honorable W. A.McCULLOUGH, a Judge of the Municipal Court of the City of Clinton, Clinton County, Iowa, Defendant.
Nos. 51796, 51797.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
Feb. 8, 1966.

[258 Iowa 740]

Page 380

Frank W. Davis and Frank W. Davis, Jr., Des Moines, for plaintiffs.

Lawrence Scalise, Atty. Gen., and Dan L. Johnston, Asst. Atty. Gen., for defendant.

RAWLINGS, Justice.

This case comes before us on certiorari which was permitted to review orders entered by the trial court overruling motions to dismiss and demurrers filed in criminal proceedings. The propriety of this review is not challenged. See Chicago & N. W. Ry. Co. v. Fachman, 255 Iowa 989, 125 N.W.2d 210.

Four informations were filed in the Municipal Court of Clinton, charging plaintiff Richard Powers with failure to report accidents, in violation of section 88.12, Code, 1962.

Two informations were filed in the same court charging plaintiffs Richard Powers and G. W. Danielson with hindering and deterring an inspector in performance of his duties, in violation of section 91.16(1), Code, 1962.

Presumably both plaintiffs are employed by a railroad or railroads engaged in interstate commerce.

Identical motions to set aside the informations, filed by plaintiffs in all cases, were overruled.

At the same time identical demurrers, filed by plaintiffs in all cases, were overruled

[258 Iowa 741]

Page 381

For the purpose of this review only, the various cases are consolidated.

We have held a trial de novo is not permitted on certiorari and only questions of law are presented. City of Iowa City v. White, 253 Iowa 41, 48, 111 N.W.2d 266. Stated otherwise, we entertain these proceedings on assigned errors.

By the demurrers filed, plaintiffs contended the informations were fatally defective in that: (1) they did not substantially conform to the requirements of the Code of Iowa, and (2) they contained matter which, if true, would constitute a legal defense or bar to the prosecution.

However, plaintiffs now stand only upon that portion of their demurrers by which they claim the informations contain matter which serves to bar prosecution. Our review is confined accordingly.

In this respect, plaintiff Powers asserts Section 88.12, Code, 1962, is in conflict with federal statutes involving the same subject matter; that the Congress of the United States has pre-empted the same field.

Both plaintiffs then contend section 91.16(1) is so vague and uncertain as to be unconstitutional; and each information filed charging plaintiffs violated this law asserts two separate and distinct offenses against them.

These assigned errors will be considered in the order presented.

I. We find no merit in the assertion by plaintiff Powers that he is not subject to the provisions of Code section 88.12 because Congress has pre-empted the same field.

At the outset, it is evident no determination of the problem at hand can be had without resort to those specific legislative enactments here involved.

Relevant provisions of the Code of Iowa, 1962, provide in substance as follows:

88.11 Record of Accidents. Manufacturers, manufacturing corporations, or corporations operating any mercantile establishment, mill, workshop or business house shall keep careful records of accidents resulting in death of an employee or which will prevent him from returning to work within two days.

[258 Iowa 742] 88.12 Report of accidents--evidence. Within forth-eight hours after such accident, a report thereof shall be made to the state commissioner of labor, any statement in such report is privileged.

88.13 Penalties. Any person, corporation, firm, agent or superintendent violating section 88.11 and 88.12 above shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars.

Those acts of the Congress which plaintiff Powers invokes are set forth in Title 45 U.S.C.A., and so far as here concerned provide substantially as follows:

§ 38. Monthly reports of railroad accidents; duty of carrier.

Every general manager, superintendent, or other officer of every common carrier engaged in interstate or foreign commerce by railroad shall submit a monthly report of all collisions, derailments or other accidents to the Interstate Commerce Commission, stating the nature, causes and circumstances thereof.

§ 39. Penalty for failure to make report.

Any failure to make such report to the Interstate Commerce Commission within thirty days after the end of any month shall be punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars.

§ 40. Investigation by commission of accidents; cooperation with State commissions; reports of investigations.

The Interstate Commerce Commission shall have authority to investigate any such accidents, and do all things necessary as a part thereof: 'Provided, That when such accident is investigated by a commission of the State in which it occurred, the Interstate Commerce Commission shall, if convenient,

Page 382

make any investigation it may have previously determined upon, at the same time as, and in connection with, the State commission investigation.'

The question now presented is whether the cited laws of Iowa are in strict conflict with the cited acts of Congress.

Admittedly, any power the states may exercise which relates to interstate commerce, ceases to exist from the moment Congress asserts its paramount authority over the same subject by any legislative enactment which is in direct conflict with, or [258 Iowa 743] repugnant to a state statute. 15 Am.Jur.2d, Commerce, section 23, page 655, and 15 C.J.S. Commerce § 6, page 260.

However, it still remains the various states, in the exercise of their police powers, may enact statutes to protect the public health, public morals, public safety, and public convenience, concurrent with laws passed by Congress in the exercise of its jurisdiction over the same subjects, provided such laws are local in their character, affect interstate commerce only incidentally or indirectly, and do not conflict with federal legislation or the Federal Constitution.

An exercise by a state of its police power, which would be valid if not superseded by federal action, is superseded only where the repugnance or conflict is so direct and positive the two acts cannot be reconciled or consistently stand together. Fleming v. Richardson, 237 Iowa 808, 830-831, 24 N.W.2d 280; Southern Pac. Co. v. State of Arizona, 325 U.S. 761, 65 S.Ct. 1515, 89 L.Ed. 1915; Terminal R. Ass'n of St. Louis v. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, 318 U.S. 1, 63 S.Ct. 420, 87 L.Ed. 571, 15 Am.Jur.2d, Commerce, section 69, page 714; and 15 C.J.S. Commerce § 11, page 266.

II. With these precepts in mind, we must determine whether there is direct conflict or irreconcilable repugnance between the state statutes and the acts of Congress here involved.

Plaintiff Powers refers to Fleming v. Richardson, supra, contending it supports his view. This is at best doubtful. In the cited case, the question for determination was the validity of an Iowa statute requiring a platform at each end of a caboose. A divided court there held the state law had not been superseded by the federal act. And, for the most part, that case...

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22 practice notes
  • State ex rel. Fulton v. Scheetz, No. 53068
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 8, 1969
    ...Zilm v. Zoning Board of Adjustment, Iowa, 150 N.W.2d 606, 609--610; State v. Ramos, Iowa, 149 N.W.2d 862, 865; Powers and McCullough, 258 Iowa 738, 745--746, 10 N.W.2d 378; and Graham v. Worthington, 259 Iowa 845, 850--851, 146 N.W.2d In construing statutes, courts may properly consider the......
  • Tice v. Wilmington Chemical Corp., No. 51910
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 5, 1966
    ...enactments under and by virtue of which process has been effected, the burden so assumed is a heavy one. Powers v. McCullough, Iowa, 140 N.W.2d 378, filed February 8, 1966, and State ex rel. Cairy v. Iowa Co-op Ass'n, 250 Iowa 839, 843, 95 N.W.2d [259 Iowa 36] Stated otherwise, a contested ......
  • Iron Workers Local No. 67 v. Hart, No. 54741
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 11, 1971
    ...and reference to the dictionary, or if the words themselves have a common and generally accepted meaning. Powers v. McCullough, 258 Iowa 738, 746, 140 N.W.2d 378, 384 (1966); Diamond Auto Sales, Inc. v. Erbe, 251 Iowa 1330, 1341, 105 N.W.2d 650, 656 (1960). This court has no power to determ......
  • Lee Enterprises, Inc. v. Iowa State Tax Commission, WMT-T
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 12, 1968
    ...basis which will sustain the statute. See also Kruck v. Needles, (259 Iowa 470), 144 N.W.2d 296, 301-302; Powers v. McCullough, (258 Iowa 738, 745, 746), 140 N.W.2d 378, 383-384; Steinberg-Baum Page 739 & Co. v. Countryman, 247 Iowa 923, 929, 77 N.W.2d 15; and Knorr v. Beardsley, 240 Io......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
22 cases
  • State ex rel. Fulton v. Scheetz, No. 53068
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 8, 1969
    ...Zilm v. Zoning Board of Adjustment, Iowa, 150 N.W.2d 606, 609--610; State v. Ramos, Iowa, 149 N.W.2d 862, 865; Powers and McCullough, 258 Iowa 738, 745--746, 10 N.W.2d 378; and Graham v. Worthington, 259 Iowa 845, 850--851, 146 N.W.2d In construing statutes, courts may properly consider the......
  • Tice v. Wilmington Chemical Corp., No. 51910
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 5, 1966
    ...enactments under and by virtue of which process has been effected, the burden so assumed is a heavy one. Powers v. McCullough, Iowa, 140 N.W.2d 378, filed February 8, 1966, and State ex rel. Cairy v. Iowa Co-op Ass'n, 250 Iowa 839, 843, 95 N.W.2d [259 Iowa 36] Stated otherwise, a contested ......
  • Iron Workers Local No. 67 v. Hart, No. 54741
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 11, 1971
    ...and reference to the dictionary, or if the words themselves have a common and generally accepted meaning. Powers v. McCullough, 258 Iowa 738, 746, 140 N.W.2d 378, 384 (1966); Diamond Auto Sales, Inc. v. Erbe, 251 Iowa 1330, 1341, 105 N.W.2d 650, 656 (1960). This court has no power to determ......
  • Lee Enterprises, Inc. v. Iowa State Tax Commission, WMT-T
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 12, 1968
    ...basis which will sustain the statute. See also Kruck v. Needles, (259 Iowa 470), 144 N.W.2d 296, 301-302; Powers v. McCullough, (258 Iowa 738, 745, 746), 140 N.W.2d 378, 383-384; Steinberg-Baum Page 739 & Co. v. Countryman, 247 Iowa 923, 929, 77 N.W.2d 15; and Knorr v. Beardsley, 240 Io......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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