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Alexander v. Director

OPINION FILED JANUARY 4, 1983.

ROBERT D. ALEXANDER, INDIV. AND D/B/A PEORIA SCALE SERVICE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Tazewell County; the Hon. John A. Gorman, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE STOUDER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff Robert D. Alexander filed a complaint for administrative review of a decision of the Illinois Department of Agriculture (hereinafter the Department). After a hearing on the merits, the circuit court of Tazewell County reversed two portions of that decision but affirmed the denial of plaintiff's application for a serviceman certificate of registration. Plaintiff appeals that affirmation. No cross-appeal is presented.

In 1978 and 1979, plaintiff was registered by the Department as a scale repairman pursuant to section 8.1 of the Weights and Measures Act (hereinafter the Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 147, par. 108.1). On December 19, 1979, the Department's Bureau of Products Inspection and Standards informed plaintiff that it had investigated eight complaints against him and the Peoria Scale Service, his registered service agency. A hearing was scheduled for January 22, 1980, to provide the opportunity to show cause why the Department should not revoke, or decline to renew, his registration.

On January 16, 1980, plaintiff requested a bill of particulars and moved for a continuance and dismissal of the administrative proceedings, arguing, inter alia, that section 8.1 of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 147, par. 108.1) was unconstitutionally vague and violative of the non-delegation doctrine. The motion to dismiss was denied, and the hearing was continued to February 11, 1980. The request for a bill of particulars was granted, but plaintiff received copies of the complainants' statements rather than a formal bill. On the date of the hearing, plaintiff requested another continuance until that time when a formal bill was tendered. Finding that the statements and the statute together provided sufficient notice of the charges against him, the continuance was denied and the hearing commenced.

Eight complainants and seven departmental employees testified for the Department. The complainants indicated that they had scales installed by plaintiff that did not function properly or were improperly installed. One scale appeared to have homemade parts and another lacked essential parts. One complainant had paid plaintiff $4,000 and received nothing. A promised refund was never made. Several of the customers were forced to engage other agencies to rectify their scale problems. One complainant had paid $9,000 for a scale which, four years later, had yet to pass a State inspection. A number of departmental employees confirmed the complaints and the scale condemnations. Plaintiff proffered no evidence in his defense.

The first of the three issues presented for our review is whether section 8.1 of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 147, par. 108.1) constitutes an unconstitutional delegation of power to the Department. To avoid such a characterization, the legislature must have provided sufficient identification of the following in delegating its authority:

"(1) The persons and activities potentionally subject to regulation;

(2) the harm sought to be prevented; and

(3) the general means intended to be available to the administrator to prevent the identified harm." Stofer v. Motor Vehicle Casualty Co. (1977), 68 Ill.2d 361, 372, 369 N.E.2d 875, 879.

Regarding persons and activities,

"The legislature must do all that is practical to define the scope of the legislation, i.e., the persons and activities which may be subject to the administrator's authority. This effort is necessary to put interested persons on notice of the possibility of administrative actions affecting them. [Citation.] Of course, the complexity of the subject sought to be regulated may put practical limitations upon the legislature's ability to identify all of the forms the activity may take. [Citation.]" (Stofer v. Motor Vehicle Casualty Co. (1977), 68 Ill.2d 361, 372-73, 369 N.E.2d 875, 879.)

Section 8.1 of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 147, par. 108.1) initially provides:

"All persons installing, servicing, reconditioning, or repairing weighing and measuring devices used in trade or commerce shall be registered * * *"

The section later defines a "registrant," a "commercial weighing and measuring device," and "serviceman," and a "service agency." The initial statement of scope and the definitions clearly put an individual such as plaintiff on notice that his activities connected with the installation of commercial weighing devices are subject to the authority of the Department.

Regarding harm,

"the legislature may use somewhat broader, more generic language than in the first element. It is sufficient if, from the language of the statute, it is apparent what types of evil the statute is intended to prevent. [Citation.]" (Stofer v. Motor Vehicle Casualty Co. (1977), 68 Ill.2d 361, 373, 369 N.E.2d 875, 879.)

We initially note that the predominant purpose of the State in licensing a trade or profession is the prevention of injury to the public by assuring that the occupation will be practiced with honesty and integrity, excluding from the profession those who are incompetent or unworthy. (Coles v. Department of Registration & Education (1978), 59 Ill. App.3d 1046, 376 N.E.2d 269; Ranquist v. Stackler (1977), 55 Ill. App.3d 545, 370 N.E.2d 1198, cert. denied (1978), 439 U.S. 926, 58 L.Ed.2d 318, 99 S.Ct. 309; Kaplan v. Department of Registration & Education (1977), 46 Ill. App.3d 968, 361 N.E.2d 626.) While section 8.1 speaks of registration, it shares this aim. It requires possession or availability of appropriate equipment, the taking of an examination, the demonstration of a working knowledge of weighing and measuring devices, and the filing of a performance bond. It can thus be seen that the section, as the entire Act, has been enacted "to protect the ...


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