State ex Inf. McKittrick v. Mo. Utilities Co., No. 34073.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtHays
Citation96 S.W.2d 607
PartiesSTATE OF MISSOURI upon the information of ROY McKITTRICK, Attorney General, at the relation of the CITY OF CALIFORNIA, Relator, v. MISSOURI UTILITIES COMPANY, a Corporation.
Decision Date08 September 1936
Docket NumberNo. 34073.
96 S.W.2d 607
STATE OF MISSOURI upon the information of ROY McKITTRICK, Attorney General, at the relation of the CITY OF CALIFORNIA, Relator,
v.
MISSOURI UTILITIES COMPANY, a Corporation.
No. 34073.
Supreme Court of Missouri.
Division One, September 8, 1936.

[96 S.W.2d 608]

Quo Warranto.

OUSTER GRANTED.

Roy McKittrick, Attorney General, Covell R. Hewitt, Assistant Attorney General, and L.P. Embry for relator.

(1) Quo warranto is the proper remedy for obtaining the relief sought in this action and the action could properly be brought at the relation of the city of California. State ex inf. v. Mo. Util. Co., 53 S.W. (2d) 394, 331 Mo. 337; State ex inf. v. West End L. & P. Co., 246 Mo. 653; Kavanaugh v. St. Louis, 220 Mo. 517; State ex inf. v. Ry. Co., 140 Mo. 539; State ex inf. Atty. Gen. ex rel. City of Lebanon v. Mo. Standard Tel. Co., 337 Mo. 642. (2) Municipal consent is necessary to entitle a company to maintain poles, wires and equipment in the streets of a city and to supply electricity in a city. (a) Under the statutes of Missouri municipal consent is necessary. Secs. 4962, 7028, 7683, R.S. 1929. State ex inf. v. Mo. Util. Co., 53 S.W. (2d) 394, 331 Mo. 337; State ex rel. v. Pub. Serv. Comm., 82 S.W. (2d) 105; State ex inf. v. Mo. Standard Tel. Co., 337 Mo. 642; Detroit United Ry. Co. v. Detroit, 229 U.S. 39; Louisville Trust Co. v. Cincinnati, 76 Fed. 296; Cedar Rapids Water Co. v. Cedar Rapids, 118 Iowa, 234; Scott County Road Co. v. Hines, 215 U.S. 336; Turnpike Co. v. Illinois, 96 U.S. 63; Owensborough v. Cumberland Tel. Co., 230 U.S. 58; Postal Tel.-Cable Co. v. Ingraham, 228 Fed. 392; Smith v. Osceola, 178 Iowa, 200; Grand Rapids Bridge Co. v. Prange, 35 Mich. 400; State v. Northern Ohio Traction Co., 34 Ohio Cir. Ct. 262. (b) The Public Service Commission Law did not repeal, modify or amend the statutes requiring a public service corporation to obtain consent of the municipality. State ex inf. Attorney General ex rel. City of Lebanon v. Mo. Standard Tel. Co., 337 Mo. 642; State ex inf. Attorney General ex rel. City of Sikeston v. Mo. Util. Co., 53 S.W. (2d) 394, 331 Mo. 337; State ex rel. City of Sikeston v. Pub. Serv. Comm., 82 S.W. (2d) 105. (3) The doctrine of estoppel cannot be applied to the relator in this action. (a) The respondent's answer and return is insufficient to plead the doctrine of estoppel. Estoppel must be pleaded with particularity and precision and every essential fact must be set forth and nothing can be supplied by inference or intendment. 21 C.J. 1247, sec. 260; Grafeman Dairy Co. v. Northwestern Bank, 288 S.W. 363; Mo. Cattle Loan Co. v. Great Southern Life Ins. Co., 52 S.W. (2d) 1. (b) Estoppels are odious and the facts upon which an attempt is made to predicate an estoppel should be closely and critically scrutinized. Wyatt v. Wilheit, 192 Mo. App. 559. As to municipal corporations, the doctrine of estoppel is applied only in exceptional cases and then with much caution. City of Pacific v. Ryan, 28 S.W. (2d) 655; State ex inf. Shartel v. Mo. Util. Co., 53 S.W. (2d) 399. (c) To constitute an estoppel three elements must concur: First, an admission, statement, or act inconsistent with the claim afterwards asserted and sued on; second, action by the other party on the faith of such admission, statement or act; third, injury to such other party resulting from allowing the first party to contradict or repudiate such admission, statement or act. State ex inf. Shartel v. Mo. Util. Co., 53 S.W. (2d) 399; Grafeman Dairy Co. v. Northwestern Bank, 290 Mo. 335; Bramell v. Adams, 146 Mo. 83; First Natl. Bank v. Ragsdale, 171 Mo. 185; Commerce Trust Co. v. Keck, 283 Mo. 223; Pollard v. Ward, 289 Mo. 286; Vette v. Hackman, 292 Mo. 138; 2 Pomeroy's Equity Jurisprudence (2 Ed.), secs. 804, 805. The respondent having failed to prove the existence of these three necessary concurrent elements, or any of them, there can be no estoppel against the relator in this case. (d) On the facts in this case there can be no estoppel. Respondent's franchise expired February 16, 1929. What happened prior to that date can afford no basis for an estoppel. State ex inf. Atty. Gen. ex rel. City of Lebanon v. Mo. Standard Tel. Co., 337 Mo. 642. The respondent so construed the situation by applying for a new franchise from the city immediately upon the expiration of the last franchise. The respondent must show knowledge on the part of the relator concerning the matters sought to be made the basis of an estoppel. 21 C.J. 1217, sec. 222. Nonaction on the part of the city is not sufficient basis for an estoppel. City of Pacific v. Ryan, 28 S.W. (2d) 655. The collection of direct property taxes by the city could not be made the basis of an estoppel. Senter v. Lumber Co., 255 Mo. 607; Hacker v. Bleish, 3 S.W. (2d) 1018; Omaha E.L. & P. Co. v. Omaha, 172 Fed. 494. Continued occupancy of the city by a utility after the expiration of its franchise will not suffice to create an estoppel against the ouster of the utility. State ex inf. Atty. Gen. ex rel. City of Lebanon v. Mo. Standard Tel. Co., 337 Mo. 642; Louisville Trust Co. v. Cincinnati, 76 Fed. 296. Nothing on which to predicate estoppel has occurred since February 16, 1929. (e) He who seeks equity must do equity. On the facts in this case the respondent has no standing in a court of equity. (4) A denial of the ouster of the respondent, as sought by the relator, would, in effect, nullify the statutes requiring municipal consent. (5) The ouster of the respondent from the city would not constitute taking of property without due process. Detroit United Ry. Co. v. Detroit, 229 U.S. 46; Scott County Road Co. v. Hines, 215 U.S. 339. (6) The pendency of the action in the Federal Court cannot abate this action or postpone the relator's right to a determination of this action. The relief sought is different. The parties are different. The plaintiffs and defendants are not the same in both cases. Pocoke v. Petersen, 256 Mo. 515; Long v. Lackawanna Coal & Iron Co., 233 Mo. 735; Rodney v. Gibbs, 184 Mo. 10. (7) The respondent is the only proper party defendant in this action. State ex rel. v. Business Men's Club, 178 Mo. App. 548; State ex rel. v. Monarch Transfer & Storage Co., 20 S.W. (2d) 60. The respondent says that its bondholders are necessary parties. The Community Power & Light Company, which owns all of respondent's common stock except director's qualifying shares, owns all of respondent's bonds. The directorate of the two companies is largely the same. The officers of the Community Power & Light Company were present and managing the defense of this action at the hearings held. The Community Power & Light Company, as bondholder and stockholder, would be estopped by a judgment in this action. Davidson v. Real Estate & Inv. Co., 249 Mo. 503.

S.W. Fordyce, N.W. Hartman and Fordyce, White, Mayne & Williams for respondent.

(1) The granting of quo warranto rests on the discretion of the court and will be denied if inequitable. State ex inf. Atty. Gen. v. Mo. Util. Co., 53 S.W. (2d) 394, 331 Mo. 337; State ex rel. McAllister v. Cupples Station L., H. & P. Co., 283 Mo. 115; State ex inf. v. School District, 284 S.W. 135; State ex rel. v. Town of Mansfield, 99 Mo. App. 146; State ex rel. Letchner v. Dearing, 253 Mo. 605; People v. City of Le Roy, 293 Ill. 278, 127 N.E. 695. (2) This court should dismiss this action because of the pendency of a suit in the United States Circuit Court of Appeals concerning and affecting the same subject matter. Kansas City Gas Co. v. Kansas City, 198 Fed. 500; Cohens v. Virginia, 6 Wheat. 264, 5 L. Ed. 257; State v. Julow, 31 S.W. 782, 129 Mo. 174; Looney v. Eastern Texas Ry. Co., 247 U.S. 214, 62 L. Ed. 1084; St. Louis-S.F. Railroad Co. v. McElvain, 253 Fed. 123; Kline v. Burke Const. Co., 260 U.S. 226, 67 L. Ed. 226; Sherwin Natl. Bank of N.Y. v. Shubert Theatrical Co., 238 Fed. 225; Swift v. Black Panther Oil & Gas Co., 224 Fed. 20. (3) Maintenance of competition in the sale and distribution of electrical energy is in the public interest and should be favored. State ex rel. Union Electric v. Pub. Serv. Comm., 62 S.W. (2d) 742, 333 Mo. 426; State ex inf. Shartel v. Mo. Util. Co., 331 Mo. 337; State ex rel. McAllister v. Cupples Station L., H. & P. Co., 283 Mo. 115; State ex rel. City of Sikeston v. Pub. Serv. Comm., 82 S.W. (2d) 105; State ex rel. Electric Co. v. Atkinson, 275 Mo. 325. (4) Respondent was led to believe that it had a perpetual franchise in the city of California, Missouri. State ex inf. Shartel v. Mo. Util. Co., 331 Mo. 337, 53 S.W. (2d) 394. (5) The holders of the bonds of the Missouri Utilities Company are indispensable parties to this action. State ex rel. Bevan v. Williams, 291 S.W. 481, 316 Mo. 665; Chase Natl. Bank v. Norwalk, 291 U.S. 431, 78 L. Ed. 894. (6) The doctrine of equitable estoppel and laches is applicable to municipal corporations in matters pertaining to governmental functions and such doctrine should be applied in the present case. State ex inf. Shartel v. Mo. Util. Co., 331 Mo. 337, 53 S.W. (2d) 394; City of Mountain View v. Farmers Tel. Co., 294 Mo. 623, 243 S.W. 153; St. Joseph v. St. Joseph Term. Co., 268 Mo. 47, 186 S.W. 1080; State ex inf. Auto v. School District, 284 S.W. 135; State ex rel. v. Westport, 116 Mo. 595; State ex rel. v. Mansfield, 99 Mo. App. 153; State ex rel. v. Huff, 105 Mo. App. 364; Town of Montevallo v. School District, 268 Mo. 224; State ex rel. v. Bailey, 19 Ind. 453; Iowa v. Carr, 191 Fed. 266; Santa Rosa Railroad Co. v. Central St. Ry. Co., 38 Pac. 990; State ex rel. Attorney General v. Janesville Water Co., 32 L.R.A. 391, 92 Wis. 496; State ex rel. v. Lincoln St. Ry. Co., 80 Neb. 333; Commonwealth ex rel. Attorney General v. Bala T.P. Co., 153 Pa. 47; High on Extraordinary Remedies, sec. 621; State ex rel. Sikeston v. Pub. Serv. Comm., 82 S.W. (2d) 105. (7) The expenditures of moneys in good faith and the exercise of rights under a franchise are...

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23 practice notes
  • Commerce Trust Co. v. Weed, No. 46545
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • November 10, 1958
    ...He must have suffered a legal detriment.' State ex inf. McKittrick, ex rel. City of California v. Missouri Utilities Co., 339 Mo. 385, 96 S.W.2d 607, 615, 106 A.L.R. 1169. Appellants could not have changed their position 'for the worse' as a result of those cases because their right to part......
  • Hanna v. Nowell, No. 7801
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • December 19, 1959
    ...724, and cases cited at loc. cit. 729; State on inf. of McKittrick, ex rel. City of California v. Missouri Utilities Co., 339 Mo. 385, 96 S.W.2d 607, 106 A.L.R. 1169; Wilkinson v. Lieberman, 327 Mo. 420, 37 S.W.2d 10 31 C.J.S. Estoppel Sec. 70a, p. 264; Missouri Pac. R. Co. v. Askew Saddler......
  • UAW-CIO Local No. 31 Credit Union v. Royal Ins. Co., Ltd., UAW-CIO
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • February 11, 1980
    ...silent be under a duty to speak." State on Inf. of McKittrick ex rel. City of California v. Missouri Utilities Co., 339 Mo. 385, 96 S.W.2d 607, 615, 106 A.L.R. 1169 (1936). See also Mills v. Taylor, 270 S.W.2d 724 (Mo.1954). Royal does not set forth what it considers to have imposed a duty ......
  • Ball v. Gross, Nos. 38095
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • March 28, 1978
    ...suffered a legal detriment." State on Inf. of McKittrick, Atty. Gen. ex rel. City of California v. Missouri Utilities Co., 339 Mo. 385, 96 S.W.2d 607, 615, 106 A.L.R. 1169 (1936); Commerce Trust Company v. Weed, 318 S.W.2d 289, 303 (Mo.1958); Klaar v. Lemperis, 303 S.W.2d 55 The trial court......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • Commerce Trust Co. v. Weed, No. 46545
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • November 10, 1958
    ...He must have suffered a legal detriment.' State ex inf. McKittrick, ex rel. City of California v. Missouri Utilities Co., 339 Mo. 385, 96 S.W.2d 607, 615, 106 A.L.R. 1169. Appellants could not have changed their position 'for the worse' as a result of those cases because their right to part......
  • Hanna v. Nowell, No. 7801
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • December 19, 1959
    ...724, and cases cited at loc. cit. 729; State on inf. of McKittrick, ex rel. City of California v. Missouri Utilities Co., 339 Mo. 385, 96 S.W.2d 607, 106 A.L.R. 1169; Wilkinson v. Lieberman, 327 Mo. 420, 37 S.W.2d 10 31 C.J.S. Estoppel Sec. 70a, p. 264; Missouri Pac. R. Co. v. Askew Saddler......
  • UAW-CIO Local No. 31 Credit Union v. Royal Ins. Co., Ltd., UAW-CIO
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • February 11, 1980
    ...silent be under a duty to speak." State on Inf. of McKittrick ex rel. City of California v. Missouri Utilities Co., 339 Mo. 385, 96 S.W.2d 607, 615, 106 A.L.R. 1169 (1936). See also Mills v. Taylor, 270 S.W.2d 724 (Mo.1954). Royal does not set forth what it considers to have imposed a ......
  • Ball v. Gross, Nos. 38095
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • March 28, 1978
    ...a legal detriment." State on Inf. of McKittrick, Atty. Gen. ex rel. City of California v. Missouri Utilities Co., 339 Mo. 385, 96 S.W.2d 607, 615, 106 A.L.R. 1169 (1936); Commerce Trust Company v. Weed, 318 S.W.2d 289, 303 (Mo.1958); Klaar v. Lemperis, 303 S.W.2d 55 The trial court pro......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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