Professional Fire Fighters, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles

Decision Date13 August 1963
Citation32 Cal.Rptr. 830,60 Cal.2d 276
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 384 P.2d 158 PROFESSIONAL FIRE FIGHTERS, INC., et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. CITY OF LOS ANGELES, Defendant and Respondent. L. A. 27007.

Bodle & Fogel, George E. Bodle, Daniel Fogel, Stephen Reinhardt and Lawrence Drasin, Los Angeles, for plaintiffs and appellants.

David Ziskind, A. L. Wirin and Fred Okrand, Los Angeles, as amici curiae on behalf of plaintiffs and appellants.

Roger Arnebergh, City Atty., Bourke Jones, Asst. City Atty., and Marcus E. Crahan, Jr., Deputy City Atty., for defendant and respondent.

PETERS, Justice.

Plaintiffs appeal from an adverse judgment entered in an action seeking an injunction and declaratory relief.

Plaintiff Professional Fire Fighters, Inc., is incorporated under the laws of the State of California, and is chartered by the International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO, as Local 748, with its principal place of business within the City of Los Angeles, and is one of several unions with a membership among the employees of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Plaintiff Wheatley is a member and president of Local 748, and an employee of the fire department. Defendant is a municipal corporation, organized and existing as a charter city.

The local and Wheatley brought this action (the latter suing on his own behalf as an employee, and in his representative capacity on behalf of this fellow employees who are members of the local) for the purpose of determining and enforcing the rights and obligations of the respective parties in respect to the provisions of Labor Code sections 1960 through 1963, inclusive. 1 In their first cause of action plaintiffs alleged that defendant city discriminated against those employees of the fire department who are members of Local 748 (as more particularly set forth in the pleading), in violation of the sections of the Labor Code, and threatens to continue such conduct unless permanently restrained by injunction. The second cause of action seeks declaratory relief on the basis of an existing pleaded controversy between the parties, in which defendant city contends that the specified code sections are not applicable to it by virtue of its status as a chartered city.

Defendant filed a general demurrer to each cause of action together with an answer denying the charges of discrimination, and affirmatively alleging that neither plaintiff has capacity to sue. The answer to the cause of action for declaratory relief, in addition, alleges that sections 1960 through 1963 of the Labor Code are invalid because of being vague and indefinite and in 'conflict with Sections 6, 8, 8 1/2 and 13 of Article XI of the California Constitution, and with the several provisions of the Charter, laws and regulations of the City of Los Angeles adopted thereunder, and constitute an unlawful and arbitrary interference with the legislative and administrative discretion of the City of Los Angeles and its Board of Fire Commissioners in the organization, control, regulation, supervision and management of its Fire Department and Fire Department and Fire Department employees.' The answer further alleges that defendant city, through its Board of Fire Commissioners, has at all times recognized and dealt with Local 748 under and by virtue of sections 15 h and 15 k of rules promulgated by the Board of Fire Commissioners. 2 The prayer of the answer sought dismissal of the cause of action for injunction, and, as to the action for declaratory relief asked that the court either find that there is no actionable controverysy regarding the Lobor Code sections, or that those statutes be declared invalid and inapplicable to defendant.

Before the demurrer was submitted for decision each party moved for summary judgment, and supported such motion by various declarations. The demurrer and the two motions for summary judgment were argued and submitted together. The trial court determined that all of the issues raised by the pleadings (other than the factual matters set forth in the declarations, as to which there was no dispute) constituted questions of law, and could therefore be determined on the motions for summary judgment. It entered its written 'conclusions of Law and Judgment,' a single document. The portion denominated judgment denied the prayer for injunction, and granted both parties declaratory relief by declaring the rights of the parties to be 'those hereinabove specified in the Conclusions of Law, * * * which are incorporated herein by reference, * * *' 3 The conclusions may be summarized as follows:

(a) The plaintiff corporation (Local 748) has no capacity to sue;

(b) Plaintiff Wheatley, as president of Local 748, has no beneficial interest sufficient to give him capacity to sue for injunction; but his status as an employee of the fire department authorizes him to sue on behalf of all other such employees for declaratory relief;

(c) Since plaintiffs' affidavits in support of their motion for summary judgment fail to show any past discrimination or present threat of discrimination against Wheatley, personally, the cause of action for injunction is fatal for lack of proper plaintiff;

(d) Even if Wheatley could properly represent the other fire department employees (as to whom discrimination is claimed in the affidavits) no cause of action for injunction is shown by claim of past discrimination in light of the fact that the uncontroverted affidavits of defendant indicate no threat of discrimination in the future;

(e) Even if a cause of action for injunctive relief were otherwise properly shown, it must fail by reason of failure to sue the individual members of the department or board who are alleged in the affidavits to have committed the discriminatory acts;

(f) Even if the law permitted an action for injunction against the Board of Fire Commissioners and its officers, in the name of the city, an injunction may not issue because plaintiffs have failed to exhaust their administrative remedies;

(g) Labor Code sections 1960-1963, inclusive, are unconstitutional under the provisions of article I, section 21, of the California Constitution (special privileges);

(h) Labor Code sections 1960-1963, inclusive, as well as Government Code sections 3500-3509, inclusive, are inapplicable to defendant by reason of its status as a chartered city, and by further reason of its charter provisions and ordinances, rules and regulations which it has enacted by virtue thereof; 4

(i) The City of Los Angeles has plenary and exclusive power under the California Constitution, article XI, sections 6, 8, 8 1/2, 12, 13, and article XX, section 16, to govern its own fire department to the exclusion of any and all interference by the state Legislature; and Labor Code sections 1960-1963 and Government Code sections 3500-3509 are not in force as to defendant city;

(i) The rights and obligations of the employees of defendant city's fire department are as set forth in defendant's charter, its ordinances and the regulations promulgated by its Board of Fire Commissioners (see regulation 15 set forth in footnote 2, above). 5

These conclusions were expressed at length (covering over 11 pages). The 'Memorandum of Decision' covered 50 pages. These conclusions may be considered conveniently in four groups:

(1) Do plaintiffs have the capacity to sue?

(2) Assuming such capacity, have plaintiffs made a sufficient showing in regard to the alleged discrimination in order to avoid summary judgment on their cause of action for injunction?

(3) Do Labor Code sections 1960-1963 create an unconstitutional special privilege?

(4) Are Labor Code sections 1960-1963 (and Government Code sections 3500-3509) inapplicable to defendant by reason of its status as a chartered city and by further reason of its ordinances and regulations enacted under the provisions of its charter? 6

1. Plaintiffs' capacity to sue:

The conclusions of the trial court, summarized as (a) through (c) above, hold that as a matter of law the union has no capacity to sue under either cause of action, that Wheatley has no representative capacity as president of the local, and that although he has such capacity as an employee it does not extend to the cause of action for injunction.

The holding that the union is without capacity to sue is erroneous. The 'Conclusions of Law' give no explanation for the ruling so that we are entitled to look to the 'Memorandum of Decision' for the basis of this conclusion. (Rules 5(a) and 5(b), Cal.Rules of Court; 4 Cal.Jur.2d, Appeal and Error, § 307, p. 41.) Therein the court states that 'plaintiff corporation has no standing as a party plaintiff for want of a beneficial interest sufficient to satisfy Code of Civil Procedure sections 382 and 1086' (italics added) (citing Weaver v. Pasadena Tournament of Roses, 32 Cal.2d 833, 198 P.2d 514, and Parker v. Bowron, 40 Cal.2d 344, 254 P.2d 6). The first of the two cited code sections provides that actions may be brought in a representative capacity where the question is one of general or common interest and it is impractical to bring all interested parties before the court. The other section provides that a writ of mandate will issue only on the petition of 'the party beneficially interested.' The Weaver decision held that the plaintiffs therein had no capacity to bring a class action, not because they themselves had no beneficial interest, but because they failed to show that other members of the alleged class had similar interests. The plaintiff in the Parker case was held to have no beneficial interest in the subject matter (wages of city employees) where there was no allegation that he was himself a city employee, and his right of representation was alleged to be his position as secretary-treasurer of an unincorporated association which claimed to have a membership consisting of city employees. 7 But here, we have no...

To continue reading

Request your trial
150 cases
  • Residents of Beverly Glen, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • August 30, 1973
    ...been a marked accommodation of formerly strict procedural requirements of standing to sue (Professional Fire Fighters, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, 60 Cal.2d 276, 32 Cal.Rptr. 830, 384 P.2d 158) and even of capacity to sue (Daniels v. Sanitarium Assn., Inc., 59 Cal.2d 602, 30 Cal.Rptr. 828,......
  • Weekes v. City of Oakland
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • May 30, 1978
    ...(1903) 141 Cal. 204, 209, 74 P. 780, 782.) "On the other hand," we observed in Professional Fire Fighters, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles (1963) 60 Cal.2d 276, 291, 32 Cal.Rptr. 830, 839, 384 P.2d 158, 167, "the clear language of the constitutional provisions . . . deny to the state Legislatur......
  • City of Huntington Beach v. Becerra
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • January 10, 2020
    ...591, 600, 205 Cal.Rptr. 794, 685 P.2d 1145 ( Seal Beach ), quoting Professional Fire Fighters, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles (1963) 60 Cal.2d 276, 292, 32 Cal.Rptr. 830, 384 P.2d 158 ( Professional Fire Fighters ); see Baggett v. Gates (1982) 32 Cal.3d 128, 136, 185 Cal.Rptr. 232, 649 P.2d 87......
  • Glendale City Employees' Assn., Inc. v. City of Glendale
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • October 3, 1975
    ...employees, may sue in its own name to enforce the memorandum of understanding. (See Professional Fire Fighters, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles (1963) 60 Cal.2d 276, 283--284, 32 Cal.Rptr. 830, 384 P.2d 158.) Since the class action format adds nothing to the rights or liabilities of the parties......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles

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