In Alden v. Alameda County, 43 Cal. 270, the action was on a judgment, and there was no allegation in the complaint of the presentation of a claim to the board of supervisors.Summary of this case from Farmers and Merchants' Bank of Los Angeles v. City of Los Angeles
Appeal from the District Court of the Third Judicial District, Alameda County.
This was an action commenced on July 9th, 1869, to recover from the County of Alameda the sum of three thousand four hundred and one dollars and eighty-six cents, with interest thereon from June 2d, 1865. The complaint counted on four judgments recovered against the defendant on the last named day, in the County Court of said county, under section fourteen of " An Act concerning roads and highways in the County of Alameda," approved March 24th, 1862. (Stats. 1862, p. 81.) There was an allegation that the judgments had not been reversed, annulled, or set aside, and that no part of them had been paid or satisfied; but there was no allegation of any presentation of them, or either of them, to the Board of Supervisors. The defendant demurred, on the ground that the complaint did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. The demurrer was sustained; and plaintiff declining to amend, judgment was entered for defendant. The plaintiff appealed.
The Court below erred in sustaining the demurrer, and rendering judgment thereonfor defendant. The judgments were recovered in the County Court for damages awarded in proceedings under the Road Act of 1862, and were in full force, and unpaid and unsatisfied. The following authorities are relied on as establishing plaintiff's right to maintain his action: Stats. 1862, p. 81, Sec. 14; Hookers v. Trustees of Village of Rochester, 1 Wend. 53; People ex rel. Green v. Common Council of Syracuse, 20 How. Pr. 491.
The question of how the judgment shall be enforced is not at all involved. Once a judgment has been awarded and rendered in the County Court it may be sued over ad libitum, to save the Statute of Limitations, or for any reason, until it shall be paid and discharged.
William H. Patterson, for Appellant.
S. P. Wright, District Attorney, for Respondent.
The County Government is a part of the State Government, and can only be sued in the manner provided by statute; and when judgment has been obtained it can only be satisfied in the same manner as any other lawful claim against the county. The complaint here does not show that the judgments sued on were ever presented to the Board of Supervisors for allowance, and, therefore, the suit cannot be maintained. (Hitt. Gen. Laws, 6993; Sharp v. Contra Costa County, 34 Cal. 284; People v. Lake County, 33 Cal. 487; Price v. Sacramento County, 6 Cal. 254; McCann v. Sierra County, 7 Cal. 121; Crandall v. Amador County, 2 Cal. 72.)
If a judgment against a county be considered as an " audited claim," as intimated in the case of Sharp v. Contra Costa County, then plaintiff's remedy is by mandamus, to compel the Auditor to draw his warrant on the Treasurer, the drawing of the warrant being a ministerial duty. (Harpending v. Haight, 39 Cal. 189; Day v. Callow, 39 Cal. 593; Lake Merced Water Co. v. Cowles, 31 Cal. 215; Napa Valley R. R. Co. v. Napa Co., 30 Cal. 435; People v. Supervisors, 28 Cal. 430.)
JUDGES: Crockett, J. Mr. Chief Justice Sprague did not participate in the foregoing decision.
The only question on this appeal is whether an action can be maintained on a money judgment against a county in this State, there being no averment that the judgment had been presented to the Board of Supervisors for allowance as a claim against the county before the commencement of the action. The judgment itself has the force and effect of an audited claim against the county. It is conclusive evidence that the county owes the money for which the judgment was rendered. The Board of Supervisors has no discretion to exercise in respect to the justice or legality of the demand; nevertheless, the statute appears to contemplate that, after the judgment is obtained, it shall be presented to the Board of Supervisors, to be placed on file amongst the audited demands against the county. By section twenty-four of the Act of March 20th, 1855 (Stats. 1855, p. 51), providing for the organization of Boards of Supervisors in the counties of this State, it is provided that " no person shall sue a county in any case, or for any demand, unless he or she shall first present his or her claim or demand to the Board of Supervisors for allowance, and if they fail or refuse to allow the same, or some part thereof, the party feeling aggrieved may sue the county; and if the party suing recover in the action more than said Board allowed, or offered to allow, said Board shall allow the amount of the said judgment and costs as a just claim against the county; but if the party suing shall not recover more than the Board shall have offered to allow him or her, then costs shall be recovered against him or her by the county." In providing that no person shall sue a county in any case, or for any demand, without first presenting his claim for allowance, and that after it has been rejected, and he has obtained a judgment therefor, the judgment shall be allowed by the Board of Supervisors as an audited claim against the county, the statute evidently contemplates that when the judgment is obtained it shall have the force and effect of an audited demand, in so far that it is no longer open to contestation, and it is made the duty of the Board of Supervisors to allow it as an audited claim. If the Board refuses to allow it on presentation within the proper time, it can be compelled by mandamus to perform its duty in this respect. It has no discretion in the premises; and after the judgment is thus allowed, it stands upon precisely the same footing with all other audited demands against the county, and is thenceforth subject to all the conditions and limitations applicable to other audited demands, and payment may be enforced in the same manner, and not otherwise. No execution against the county can issue on the judgment, the only office of which is to establish the demand in so conclusive a manner that it can no longer be contested. It is equally clear that when the status of the claim is thus established the only remedy for enforcing it is to present the judgment to the Board for allowance as an audited claim within the time prescribed by law. No useful end whatever could be subserved by permitting the recovery of a second judgment, founded on the first; and if it were permissible in any case of this character, it is clear that the action could not be maintained without first presenting the judgment to the Board for allowance. When the statute declares that no person shall sue a county in any case, or for any demand, without first presenting the claim to the Board, the language is sufficiently comprehensive to include a cause of action or demand founded on a judgment, which is itself but an adjudicated claim against the county. The provision is founded in wisdom, and was intended to prevent the county from being harassed by needless and expensive litigation.