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Melbourne Corp. v. Hearing Board

SEPTEMBER 20, 1973.

MELBOURNE CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

HEARING BOARD ON DENIAL OR REVOCATION OF LICENSES FOR NURSING HOMES ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS. THE CITY OF CHICAGO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

DANIEL A. SLADER ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. EDWARD J. EGAN and the Hon. WALLACE J. KARGMAN, Judges, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MCNAMARA DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied October 18, 1973.

Two cases have been consolidated in this appeal because in separate proceedings involving the same nursing home, known as Melbourne Corporation, two judges of the circuit court of Cook County held that a certain ordinance of the City of Chicago was invalid.

In one case the defendant hearing board denied Melbourne's application for a 1971 nursing home license. Melbourne brought an administrative review action in the circuit court, and the trial judge ruled that section 136-15 of the Municipal Code of Chicago was invalid and ordered the issuance of a nursing home license to Melbourne. In the other case, Melbourne was being prosecuted by the City of Chicago for an alleged violation of section 136-15. The trial judge ruled that the section was invalid and dismissed the complaint.

Section 136-15 of the Municipal Code of Chicago provides as follows:

"Nursing homes, sheltered care homes or homes for the aged shall comply with rules and regulations set forth by the board of health. In addition, the board of health may adopt and enforce rules and regulations relating to the operation and conduct of nursing homes, sheltered care homes or homes for the aged, and the care, treatment, rehabilitation, recreation, and maintenance of the residents thereof as it shall deem necessary."

The administrative review case had its inception when Melbourne applied to the City of Chicago for a 1971 nursing home license. The defendant hearing board was authorized by ordinance to pass on such applications. The Chicago fire and building departments approved the issuance of a license to Melbourne, but the Chicago Board of Health charged that Melbourne was in violation of section 136-15 because of its failure to comply with certain rules and regulations of the Board of Health. The defendant hearing board conducted hearings on Melbourne's license application, made specific findings of certain violations, and denied Melbourne's application for a license.

Melbourne then filed an administrative review action in the circuit court. After hearing argument, the trial judge, while finding that the decision of the hearing board was not against the manifest weight of evidence, ruled that section 136-15 of the city code was invalid because it failed to comply with the conditions set forth in the applicable state statute, Section 15 of the Nursing Homes, Sheltered Care Homes and Homes for the Aged Act. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 111 1/2, par. 35.19.

In the ordinance violation case, the City of Chicago charged Melbourne and two of its officers with violating section 136-15 of the code by failing to comply with various maintenance rules and regulations of the Chicago Board of Health. Then penalty for violation was fine or imprisonment. The trial judge declared section 136-15 invalid as an impermissible delegation of legislative authority because it empowered the Board of Health to adopt rules and regulations without providing or defining standards to follow or limitations to govern the Board of Health, and held that any rules adopted by the Board of Health pursuant to section 136-15 were therefore void. The court sustained defendants' motion to strike the complaint, and dismissed the suit.

As we have observed, both trial judges found that section 136-15 of the city code was invalid. One judge held that the ordinance was an improper delegation of legislative authority, while the other trial judge concluded that the ordinance failed to comply with the conditions found in the applicable state statute. If the ordinance is void for either reason, the judgment orders, of course, must be affirmed.

We shall consider first the holding that section 136-15 is invalid as an improper delegation of legislative authority because it allows the Board of Health to adopt rules and regulations without providing or defining standards to follow.

• 1, 2 It is so well settled as not to require citation of authority that generally it is beyond the power of a legislative body to delegate to an administrative agency the inherent function of determining what the law will be, and that a delegation of authority to an administrative body is invalid unless standards are provided to govern the exercise of that power.

Appellants argue, however, that there is an exception to the foregoing general rule for cases involving delegation of authority in the field of public health. Appellants maintain that in such cases the courts have not looked to the presence or absence of standards or guidelines for the administrative agencies which regulate such institutions but instead rely on the principle that because of the medical expertise necessary the legislature may delegate the authority to do those things which the legislature cannot understandingly do.

• 3 No such exception to the general rule exists in Illinois, and a delegation of power to an administrative agency dealing with questions affecting public health is valid only if limited by standards to govern the administrative body in the exercise of its power. (Krol v. County of Will (1968), 38 Ill.2d 587, 233 N.E.2d 417; Dean Milk Co. v. City of Aurora (1949), 404 Ill. 331, 88 N.E.2d 827; Hill v. Relyea (1966), 34 Ill.2d 552, 216 N.E.2d 795.) In Krol the court held that an ordinance requiring that all sewage disposal systems "must be of a design and location that is approved by the Health Authority" was unconstitutional because of lack of standards provided to the Health ...


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