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Elgin Storage & Transfer Co. v. Perrine

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 29, 1953.

ELGIN STORAGE AND TRANSFER COMPANY, APPELLANT,

v.

GEORGE R. PERRINE ET AL., APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Kane County; the Hon. HARRY C. DANIELS, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE DAILY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Elgin Storage and Transfer Company, a corporation, filed this suit in the circuit court of Kane County for a declaratory judgment that the Illinois Motor Carrier of Property Act, (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1953, chap. 95 1/2, pars. 282.1 to 282.30,) enacted by the 1953 General Assembly and approved July 7, 1953, is unconstitutional and void in its entirety. Section 3(g), (par. 282.3(g),) forms the sole basis for the attack on the statute, and of that subparagraph it is complained: (1) that its provisions provide an improper classification and a discrimination against the plaintiff company and others similarly situated, resulting in a deprivation of their property without due process of law and a denial of the equal protection of law as guaranteed by the State and Federal constitutions; (2) that its provisions are also constitutionally deficient in that they are vague, indefinite, uncertain and ambiguous and without sufficient standards or guides by which the Illinois Commerce Commission, which is charged with the administration of the act, or the courts, can determine what motor vehicles used upon the public highways of the State in the transportation of property for hire are to be exempt from the act; and (3) that the provisions of subparagraph (g) are not severable from the act, and the entire act, therefore, must fall. For these reasons the complaint prayed an injunction restraining the members of the Illinois Commerce Commission, the Attorney General, and the Director of the Department of Public Safety, who were named as defendants, from enforcing the provisions of the act.

The named defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action and for want of equity, alleging that the act is constitutional and valid in the respects complained of and that by the terms of section 27 thereof, (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1953, chap. 95 1/2, par. 282.27,) section 3(g) is completely severable and does not invalidate the remaining portions of the act. Subsequently, the circuit court granted leave to thirty-three divers trucking concerns to intervene as parties defendant and they too filed motions to dismiss in substantially the same terms as the motion of the principal defendants. No evidence was offered and, upon the pleadings made, the trial court sustained the motions to dismiss the complaint. Since a substantial and important constitutional question is involved, plaintiff has appealed directly to this court for a review of the decree dismissing its complaint.

Briefly summarized, the effect of the act under consideration, if valid, is to provide a comprehensive scheme for regulation of the business of motor carriers for hire, to place the administration of the act in the Illinois Commerce Commission and to provide penalties for its violation. Plaintiff does not challenge the reasonableness of the regulations contemplated or the power of the legislature to impose them but asserts only that section 3 (g) enacts an unconstitutional exemption from the operation of the act with respect to "Motor vehicles while being used for the transportation of agricultural supplies, livestock, agricultural products or commodities." Before looking to the contention of the parties, we quote and examine the whole of section 3 of the act, in the setting of which subparagraph (g) must be construed before its validity can be determined:

"§ 3. EXEMPTIONS. This Act shall not apply to:

"(a) Persons engaged exclusively in the transportation of the United States Mail.

"(b) Motor vehicles controlled and operated by a co-operative association as defined in `The Agricultural Co-operative Act,' approved June 21, 1923, as amended.

"(c) The transportation of farm or dairy products, livestock, poultry, fruits and agricultural products, by the producer thereof or by him on behalf of other such producers where such transportation is merely an incident to the principal business or occupation of farming, or livestock raising.

"(d) Motor vehicles owned, controlled and operated by any farmer in the transportation of agricultural and dairy products while owned by the producer of the products, including landlord and tenant, from farm to a market, warehouse, dairy or shipping terminal, or for the transportation of agricultural products, livestock, poultry, eggs, machinery, materials and supplies essential to farm operation from market or shipping point to farm or from one farm to another farm, or the transportation of livestock, poultry, fruits and agricultural and dairy products from a farm to a regularly organized fair or exhibit, and return.

"(e) Farm tractors or any other agricultural machinery self-propelled or transporting or drawing agricultural implements on the public highways or used primarily in agricultural pursuits or farm wagons or farm trailers, pulled by farm tractors, or any other agricultural machinery used primarily in agricultural pursuits.

"(f) The reciprocal, casual or occasional transportation for-hire of property in intrastate commerce by any person who is regularly engaged in business other than the business of transporting property of others for-hire.

"(g) Motor vehicles while being used for the transportation of agricultural supplies, livestock, agricultural products or commodities.

"(h) Motor vehicle transportation of property by any person incident to or in furtherance of any private commercial enterprise of such person other than the business of transporting property of others for-hire."

The plaintiff, asserting that there is a presumption that the words were intended as written and that the literal meaning of the statute is the true one, interprets subparagraph (g) as applying to, and exempting absolutely from regulation, all persons engaged in operating motor vehicles while being used for the transportation of the specified commodities. Since, under such an interpretation, persons engaged in the business of transportation of property for hire by motor vehicle would be exempt from regulation when operating vehicles used for transportation of the specified commodities, in whole or in part, while persons operating motor vehicles for hire not so engaged would be required to comply with the regulations imposed, the plaintiff insists that ...


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