Tide Water Associated Oil Co. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtGIBSON
Citation279 P.2d 35,43 Cal.2d 815
PartiesTIDE WATER ASSOCIATED OIL COMPANY, a corporation, Petitioner, v. The SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent; Porter Sesnon et al., Real Parties in Interest. PACIFIC LIGHTING GAS SUPPLY COMPANY, a corporation, Petitioner, v. The SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent; Porter Sesnon et al., Real Parties in Interest. Cariton BEAL et al., Petitioners, v. The SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent; Porter Sesnon et al., Real Parties in Interest. L. A. 23262, 23263, 23264.
Decision Date25 January 1955

Page 35

279 P.2d 35
43 Cal.2d 815
TIDE WATER ASSOCIATED OIL COMPANY, a corporation, Petitioner,
v.
The SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent;
Porter Sesnon et al., Real Parties in Interest.
PACIFIC LIGHTING GAS SUPPLY COMPANY, a corporation, Petitioner,
v.
The SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent;
Porter Sesnon et al., Real Parties in Interest.
Cariton BEAL et al., Petitioners,
v.
The SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent;
Porter Sesnon et al., Real Parties in Interest.
L. A. 23262, 23263, 23264.
Supreme Court of California, In Bank.
Jan. 25, 1955.
Rehearing Denied in No. 23264, Feb. 24, 1955.

Page 37

[43 Cal.2d 819] Herbert W. Clark, William F. Kiessig, Robert D. Raven, Scott L. Harrington, Morrison, Hohfeld, Foerster, Shuman & Clark, San Francisco, Oscar C. Sattinger, Los Angeles, Twitchell & Rice, Santa Maria, Overton, Lyman, Prince & Vermille and Donald H. Ford, Los Angeles, for petitioners.

Harold W. Kennedy, County Counsel and John B. Anson, Deputy County Counsel, Los Angeles, for respondent.

Edmund G. Brown, Atty. Gen., and John F. Hassler, Deputy Atty. Gen., as amicus curiae on behalf of respondent.

Everett S. Layman, Kenneth S. Carey, Lawrence w. Jordan, Jr., James M. Dennis and Everett S. Layman, Jr., Menlo Park, for real parties in interest.

Page 38

GIBSON, Chief Justice.

Each of these three cases arises out of a suit brought by the state to enjoin unreasonable waste of gas, and each involves the question whether certain defendants are entitled to a writ of prohibition to prevent the trial of issues raised by a cross-complaint filed by other defendants.

Following a complaint by some of the operators in an oil field that there was an unreasonable waste of gas contrary to the provisions of section 3300 of the Public Resources Code, 1 the State Oil and Gas Supervisor held hearings pursuant[43 Cal.2d 820] to section 3302 et seq., determined that gas was being wastefully produced and ordered all operators in the field to cease production of gas in excess of a specified rate. Appeal was taken to the board of oil and gas commissioners for the district, and the findings and order of the supervisor were adopted with slight modifications. A suit was then brought by the People pursuant to sections 3310 2 and 3312 3 of the Public Resources Code to enjoin unreasonable waste of gas. Certain defendants filed a cross-complaint seeking to enjoin the other defendants from wasting gas and to recover damages from all but one of them for past waste. Demurrers to the cross-complaint were overruled, and motions to strike it were denied. Petitioners then sought prohibition, claiming that respondent court has no power to consider a cross-complaint in this type of suit. The availability of the writ depends upon whether petitioners have any other plain, speedy and adequate remedy, and whether respondent court, in trying the issues raised by the cross-complaint, would be acting without or in excess of its jurisdiction.

When the trial court overruled the demurrers and denied the motions to strike, it in effect ordered the case to trial upon the cross-complaint was well as upon the complaint. These rulings are not immediately reviewable by appeal, since they are not final judgments and do not otherwise come within the appealable orders enumerated in section 963 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Although the propriety of the court's action may, of course, be reviewed upon appeal from a final judgment in the case, this would not constitute a plain, speedy or adequate remedy because petitioners would be required to undergo the delay and expense of a complicated, lengthy trial upon the question of damages. Tomales Bay Oyster [43 Cal.2d 821] Corp. v. Superior Court, 35 Cal.2d 389, 392, 217 P.2d 968; Providence Baptist Church v. Superior Court, 40 Cal.2d 55, 60, 251 P.2d 10. The matter of damages is not presented by the complaint but only by the cross-complaint and, unlike the injunction issues, may be subject to jury trial. Under these circumstances prohibition would appear to be the only adequate remedy available to petitioners

Page 39

to test the jurisdiction of the court to try the issues raised by the cross-complaint.

The term jurisdiction has a broader meaning when used in considering the availability of prohibition to review an order than when used in determining whether a court lacks power in the fundamental sense, i. e., whether it has jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties. Abelleira v. District Court of Appeal, 17 Cal.2d 280, 287-291, 109 P.2d 942, 132 A.L.R. 715; see also Rescue Army v. Municipal Court, 28 Cal.2d 460, 463-464, 171 P.2d 8. Any acts which exceed the power of a court, whether defined by statute or by rules developed and followed under the doctrine of stare decisis, may be restrained by prohibition. Abelleira v. District Court of Appeal, 17 Cal.2d 280, 287-291 109 P.2d 942. We must, therefore, examine the applicable statutes and case law to determine whether a cross-complaint may be used by one defendant against another in a suit brought by the People, pursuant to the provisions of the Public Resources Code, to enjoin the unreasonable waste of gas.

Section 442 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides, 'Whenever the defendant seeks affirmative relief against any party, relating to or depending upon the contract, transaction, matter, happening or accident upon which the action is brought, or affecting the property to which the action relates, he may, in addition to his answer, file * * * a cross-complaint. * * *' (Italics added.) An action is defined as 'an ordinary proceeding in a court of justice by which one party prosecutes another for the declaration, enforcement, or protection of a right, the redress or prevention of a wrong, or the punishment of a public offense.' Code Civ.Proc., § 22. 'Every other remedy is a special proceeding.' Code Civ.Proc., § 23. Section 442 is a general provision which, in the absence of a specific statute to the contrary, is sufficiently broad to permit the use of a cross-complaint in any 'action.' It does not, however, on its face authorize the use of a cross-complaint in a 'special proceeding.'

[43 Cal.2d 822] The first question to be determined is whether this suit falls within the classification of an 'action' or whether it is a 'special proceeding.' 4 As a general rule, a special proceeding is confined to the type of case which was not, under the common law or a suit in equit. In re Sutter-Butte law or equity practice, either an action at law or a suit in equity. In re Sutter-Butte By-Pass Assessment, etc., 190 Cal. 117 Cal. 382, 387, 49 P. 354. The suit authorized by statute in the present case is one 'to enjoin' the unreasonable waste of gas, and an injunction, of course, is a well known equitable remedy. See Pomeroy, Equity Jurisprudence (5th ed. 1941), §§ 110, 112, pp. 141-142, 145. In County of Yuba v. North American etc. Min. Co., 12 Cal.App. 223, 225, 107 P. 139, it was held that a suit by a county to enjoin defendants from depositing mining debris in a river to the injury of plaintiff's property was an action and not a special proceeding within the meaning of sections 22 and 23 of the Code of Civil Procedure. In Van Bibber v. Hilton, 84 Cal. 585, 587 et seq., 24 P. 308, 598, the plaintiff sought to enjoin the diversion of the waters of a stream, and the court referred to the suit as an action and...

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87 practice notes
  • Voices of Wetlands v. State Water Res. Bd., No. H028021.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 14, 2007
    ...is not specified by statute or by rules adopted by the Judicial Council." (Tide Water Assoc. Oil Co. v. Superior Court (1955) 43 Cal.2d 815, 825, 279 P.2d 35, fn. omitted [trial court did not err in trying cross-complaint with prohibition As the California Supreme Court long ago recogn......
  • Litmon v. Superior Court, No. H027346.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 4, 2004
    ...not specifically made applicable by the statute which creates the proceeding." (Tide Water Assoc. Oil Co. v. Superior Court (1955) 43 Cal.2d 815, 825, 279 P.2d 35, fn. omitted.) "[A]ll courts have inherent supervisory or administrative powers which enable them to carry out their d......
  • People v. Blackburn, H037207
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 14, 2013
    ...by statute or by rules adopted by the Judicial Council.” ( Tide Water Associated Oil Co. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County (1955) 43 Cal.2d 815, 825, 279 P.2d 35, fn. omitted.) “ ‘In addition to their inherent equitable power derived from the historic power of equity courts, all court......
  • People v. Mortimer, H037530
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 25, 2013
    ...( Montoya, supra, 86 Cal.App.4th at p. 829, 103 Cal.Rptr.2d 579 ; see Tide Water Assoc. Oil Co. v. Superior Court (1955) 43 Cal.2d 815, 822, 279 P.2d 35 ; Le Louis v. Superior Court (1989) 209 Cal.App.3d 669, 678, 257 Cal.Rptr. 458 ; 3 Witkin, Cal. Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Actions, § 65, su......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
87 cases
  • Voices of Wetlands v. State Water Res. Bd., No. H028021.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 14, 2007
    ...procedure is not specified by statute or by rules adopted by the Judicial Council." (Tide Water Assoc. Oil Co. v. Superior Court (1955) 43 Cal.2d 815, 825, 279 P.2d 35, fn. omitted [trial court did not err in trying cross-complaint with prohibition As the California Supreme Court long ago r......
  • Litmon v. Superior Court, No. H027346.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 4, 2004
    ...are not specifically made applicable by the statute which creates the proceeding." (Tide Water Assoc. Oil Co. v. Superior Court (1955) 43 Cal.2d 815, 825, 279 P.2d 35, fn. omitted.) "[A]ll courts have inherent supervisory or administrative powers which enable them to carry out their duties,......
  • People v. Blackburn, H037207
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 14, 2013
    ...by statute or by rules adopted by the Judicial Council.” ( Tide Water Associated Oil Co. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County (1955) 43 Cal.2d 815, 825, 279 P.2d 35, fn. omitted.) “ ‘In addition to their inherent equitable power derived from the historic power of equity courts, all court......
  • People v. Mortimer, H037530
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 25, 2013
    ...proceeding." ( Montoya, supra, 86 Cal.App.4th at p. 829, 103 Cal.Rptr.2d 579 ; see Tide Water Assoc. Oil Co. v. Superior Court (1955) 43 Cal.2d 815, 822, 279 P.2d 35 ; Le Louis v. Superior Court (1989) 209 Cal.App.3d 669, 678, 257 Cal.Rptr. 458 ; 3 Witkin, Cal. Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Acti......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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