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Campbell v. Heiss

Supreme Court of Indiana
Mar 21, 1944
53 N.E.2d 634 (Ind. 1944)

Opinion

No. 27,898.

Filed March 21, 1944.

1. PLEADING — Demurrer — Grounds — Insufficient Facts — Written Instrument Not Pleaded — Contention Without Merit Where Action Was One for Statutory Penalty. — In an action by a tenant to recover penalties and attorney's fees pursuant to the provisions of the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942 a contention that the action was one founded upon the landlord registration form filed by the landlord under the Maximum Rent Regulation and hence an action based on a written instrument not set out in the complaint, was without merit, for the action was for a statutory penalty and sought a recovery because of an illegal collection of rent, and was not based upon a breach of contract. p. 300.

2. APPEAL — Pleadings — Demurrer for Insufficient Facts Sustained — Cause of Action Stated — Constitutional Question Not Determined. — Where a demurrer to a tenant's complaint against a landlord for penalties and attorney's fees provided for in the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942 for violation of a Maximum Rent Regulation was sustained and the tenant appealed, the Supreme Court was not concerned with a contention that the act was unconstitutional for providing a penalty to be recovered by a plaintiff in an action against a landlord for rents collected in excess of those provided for under the law, where the complaint was sufficient to state a cause of action for the excessive rentals. p. 300.

3. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW — Due Process of Law — Presentation of Question — Demurrer to Complaint Based on Emergency Price Control Act of 1942 Insufficient. — Where a tenant's complaint to recover penalties and attorney's fees pursuant to the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942 for violation of a Maximum Rent Regulation did not disclose how the maximum rental on defendant's property was arrived at, the question of due process in the fixing of the maximum rental was not presented by a demurrer to the complaint for want of facts. p. 300.

4. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW — Due Process of Law — Construction of Particular Statutes — Emergency Price Control Act of 1942 — Time Limitation. — The Emergency Price Control Act of 1942 is not unconstitutional on the ground that it is not limited as to time since the act is limited as to time. p. 301.

5. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW — Due Process of Law — Administrative Proceedings — Emergency Price Control Act of 1942 — Discretion of Administrator Controlled. — The Emergency Price Control Act of 1942 is not unconstitutional on the ground that it gives the administrator power to use his own discretion, without a hearing, in fixing rentals, for a standard is fixed in the act by which his discretion is controlled, and, while the act does not provide for hearings, it does not forbid them. p. 301.

6. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW — Due Process of Law — Administrative Proceedings — Hearing Not Precluded by Statute — Act Valid. — An act will not be declared unconstitutional for failure to require a hearing if it does not preclude a hearing, even if the Constitution requires a hearing before legislative fact-finding bodies. p. 301.

7. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW — Distribution of Governmental Powers and Functions — Legislative — Delegation of Power — Emergency Price Control Act of 1942 Not Unconstitutional. — Since the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942 does not delegate legislative power to the administrator in the fixing of maximum rental rates, it is not unconstitutional on such ground. p. 301.

8. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW — Distribution of Governmental Powers and Functions — Legislative — Delegation of Power — Ministerial Agency Given Power to Determine Existence of Condition. — A legislative body may enact a law, the operation of which depends upon the existence of a stipulated condition, and it may delegate to a ministerial agency power to determine whether the condition exists. p. 301.

From the Marion Superior Court, Room No. 2; Hezzie B. Pike, Judge.

Action by William H. Campbell against Bert L. Heiss and another to recover penalties and attorney's fees for collection of excess rentals in violation of the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942, and Maximum Rent Regulation No. 27, in which Prentiss M. Brown, Administrator, Office of Price Administration, was made a party. From a judgment for defendants, entered after their demurrer to the complaint was sustained, plaintiff and the Price Administrator appealed.

Reversed.

George J. Burke, General Counsel, Thomas I. Emerson, Fleming James, Jr., David London, Morton Abrahams, and Edward H. Hatton, all of Washington, D.C., James C. Gruener, of Cleveland, Ohio, and Robert H. Orbison, John E. Scott, and John M. Caylor, all of Indianapolis, for appellants.

Omer S. Whiteman, of Indianapolis, for appellee.

Elmer Q. Lockyear, of Evansville, amicus curiae.


The appellant Campbell began this action by filing a complaint alleging that the defendants, who are the appellees here, owned and rented dwelling accommodations in an apartment house; that they rented an apartment to the plaintiff, by the week, for various rentals, all in excess of $10 per week, and that the plaintiff was required to pay the rental charge; that, under the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942 (56 Stat. 23, 50 U.S.C.A., Appendix § 901 et seq.), and Maximum Rent Regulation No. 27, the maximum lawful rent for the apartment was fixed at $10 per week. Judgment was prayed for $50 for each week of excess rental, and attorney's fees, as provided for in section 205 (e) of the statute, and for all other proper relief. To this complaint the defendants demurred for want of facts. The demurrer was sustained, and the correctness of this ruling is challenged by the appeal.

In support of the ruling on the demurrer, the appellees assert that the action is founded upon the "landlord registration form" filed by the landlord under the Maximum Rent Regulation, 1. and that therefore the action is based on a written instrument, which is not set out in the complaint. There is no merit in this contention. The action is for a statutory penalty and all other proper relief. It seeks a recovery because of an illegal collection of rent, and not upon a breach of contract.

It is also asserted that the act of Congress involved is unconstitutional because it provides for a penalty to be recovered by the plaintiff in an action against a landlord 2. for rents collected in excess of those provided for under the law. But we are not concerned with this question at this time, since the complaint is sufficient to state a cause of action for the excessive rentals.

It is also urged that: "With reference to `due process of law' and an `adequate and appropriate remedy,' the provision in the `Emergency Price Control Act of 1942' that all final 3. recourse must be had through the `Emergency Court of Appeals' and the United States Supreme Court at Washington, D.C., is out of line with the Federal Constitution." The appellees have not furnished us with any authorities or argument elucidating this contention. There is nothing in the complaint disclosing how the maximum rental on the defendants' property was arrived at. So far as disclosed by the record, it may have been arrived at by agreement, or after a hearing before the commissioner. The question of due process in the fixing of the maximum lawful rental is not presented by the demurrer to the complaint.

Amicus Curiae suggests that the entire act of Congress is unconstitutional because it is not limited as to time and makes no provision for change of conditions. But the act is 4-8. limited as to time, and no question of changed conditions is involved in the issues. It is also contended that the act is void and unconstitutional because it gives the administrator power to use his own discretion, without a hearing, in fixing rentals. A casual examination of the statute discloses, however, that a standard is fixed by which the discretion of the administrator is controlled. The act does not provide for hearings, but it does not forbid hearings. It has been held that a statute is not invalid because it fails to require notice in the absence of a showing that notice was prohibited. See Toombs v. Citizens Bank of Waynesboro (1930), 281 U.S. 643, 50 Sup. Ct. 434, 74 L.Ed. 1088; Bratton et al. v. Chandler et al. (1922), 260 U.S. 110, 43 Sup. Ct. 43, 67 L.Ed. 157; Kentucky Railroad Tax Cases (1885), 115 U.S. 321, 6 Sup. Ct. 57, 29 L.Ed. 414. These cases support the view that, even if the Constitution requires a hearing before legislative fact-finding bodies, an act will not be unconstitutional for failure to require a hearing if it does not preclude a hearing. So far as the record here discloses there may have been a hearing. It is contended that the act delegates legislative power to the administrator, but we think that this view cannot be sustained. It is well settled that a legislative body may enact a law, the operation of which depends upon the existence of a stipulated condition, and that it may delegate to a ministerial agency power to determine whether the condition exists.

No other reasons supporting the ruling on the demurrer have been suggested. The ruling was erroneous.

Judgment reversed, with instructions to overrule the demurrer, and for further proceedings not inconsistent herewith.

NOTE. — Reported in 53 N.E.2d 634.


Summaries of

Campbell v. Heiss

Supreme Court of Indiana
Mar 21, 1944
53 N.E.2d 634 (Ind. 1944)
Case details for

Campbell v. Heiss

Case Details

Full title:CAMPBELL ET AL. v. HEISS ET AL

Court:Supreme Court of Indiana

Date published: Mar 21, 1944

Citations

53 N.E.2d 634 (Ind. 1944)
53 N.E.2d 634

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