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12/03/87 the People Ex Rel. E. v. Ommunity Hospital

December 3, 1987

OF LABOR, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

ILLINI COMMUNITY HOSPITAL, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

THE PEOPLE ex rel. E. ALLEN BERNARDI, Director, Department

516 N.E.2d 1320, 163 Ill. App. 3d 987, 114 Ill. Dec. 926 1987.IL.1782

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Pike County; the Hon. Cecil J. Burrows, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE McCULLOUGH delivered the opinion of the court. LUND and KNECHT, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCCULLOUGH

The Department of Labor (Department) appeals a circuit court order dismissing its complaint against Illini Community Hospital (Illini). The Department alleged Illini had violated the terms of "An Act regulating wages of laborers, mechanics and other workers employed in any public works . . ." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 39s-1 et seq.) (hereinafter the Prevailing Wage Act). The Department moved for summary judgment. The circuit court dismissed the complaint, finding as a matter of law that Illini was not a "public body" for purposes of the Prevailing Wage Act.

We reverse and remand.

Illini is a not-for-profit, nonsectarian hospital, incorporated under the laws of Illinois. Between 1982 and October 1985, it received tax monies from Pike County, which were collected pursuant to section 1 of "An Act authorizing counties to levy a tax for the purpose of maintaining public non-sectarian hospitals" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 34, par. 5351) (hereinafter Act). Section 1 of the Act states that for purposes of it, "public nonsectarian hospital" includes nonprofit community hospitals. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 34, par. 5351.

In 1985, Illini entered into a contract for the construction of a canopy at its emergency room entrance. The contract did not call for workers to be paid the prevailing wage. The Department brought an action for declaratory and injunctive relief to enforce the provisions of the Prevailing Wage Act. The circuit court found Illini was not a public body within the meaning of the Prevailing Wage Act and dismissed the complaint.

Courts, when interpreting a statute, must ascertain and effectuate the legislative intent in enacting the statute. (Maloney v. Bower (1986), 113 Ill. 2d 473, 498 N.E.2d 1102.) In determining the legislative intent, courts must consider the language of the statute and the purposes sought to be achieved by it. (Stewart v. Industrial Comm'n (1987), 115 Ill. 2d 337, 504 N.E.2d 84.) Courts should first look to the language of the statute. It is the best indication of legislative intent. Where the language is unambiguous, a court must enforce the law as enacted. (County of Du Page v. Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, Inc. (1985), 109 Ill. 2d 143, 485 N.E.2d 1076.) Courts avoid interpretations which render portions of statutory language meaningless or superfluous. Harris v. Manor Healthcare Corp. (1986), 111 Ill. 2d 350, 489 N.E.2d 1374; Ekco, Inc. v. Edgar (1985), 135 Ill. App. 3d 557, 482 N.E.2d 130.

With these principles in mind, we turn to the language of section 2 of the Prevailing Wage Act:

"'Public body' means the State or any officer, board or commission of the State or any political subdivision or department thereof, or any institution supported in whole or in part by public funds, authorized by law to construct public works or to enter into any contract for the construction of public works, and includes every county, city, town, village, township, school district, irrigation, utility, reclamation improvement or other district and every other political subdivision, district or municipality of the state whether such political subdivision, municipality or district operates under a special charter or not." (Emphasis added.) Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 39s-2.

The Department argues the language should be given its plain meaning. Since the hospital received public funds through tax monies assessed for its benefit, it is by definition a public body for purposes of the Prevailing Wage Act. Illini argues the language is ambiguous, should be interpreted as applying to only taxing bodies, and that the percentage of monies received was very small compared to its overall budget. It also argues the Prevailing Wage ...


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