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The Industrial Commission of Arizona v. Arizona State Highway Commission

Supreme Court of Arizona

May 5, 1932

ARIZONA STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSION, T. S. O'CONNELL, State Engineer, ANA FROHMILLER, State Auditor, and K. BERRY PETERSON, Attorney General of Arizona, Respondents

Original proceeding in mandamus. Petition for writ of mandamus. Peremptory writ ordered issued on conditions.

Mr. Burt Clingan (Messrs. Favour & Baker and Mr. Albert Mackenzie, of Counsel), for Petitioner.

Honorable K. Berry Peterson, Attorney General, and Mr. Riney B. Salmon, Assistant Attorney General, for Respondents.


Page 1047

[40 Ariz. 165] LOCKWOOD, J.

This is an action by the Industrial Commission of the state of Arizona, hereinafter called petitioner, for the purpose of determining whether or not it is the duty of the Arizona State Highway Commission, hereinafter called the commission, to provide from the highway fund for the premiums necessary to be paid the petitioner on compensation insurance which the law requires the latter to carry on the employees of the commission, or whether such premium can be paid only by an appropriation made by the legislature in the general appropriation bill. The suit is in effect a friendly one between two departments of the state to determine just how certain necessary expenses of the state shall be paid.

There are three questions for our determination: First, should the insurance premiums in question be paid out of the highway fund or by appropriations made by the legislature in the biennial appropriation bill? second, if such premiums should be paid from the highway fund, what is the proper procedure for petitioner to follow in securing them? and, third, if the highway fund is responsible for the payments, and a method is provided by law to compel such payments to be made, what is the amount due to petitioner? Upon the answer to the first question will depend the necessity of taking up the others.

This question is regulated entirely by the Arizona statutes, and is a matter of first impression in this state, so there are no adjudicated cases directly in point. The only assistance which we can obtain from the decisions of either this or other jurisdictions is as to the rules of construction to be used in interpreting our statutes bearing on the subject. The fundamental [40 Ariz. 166] one is that it is the duty of the court to ascertain, if possible, the intent of the legislature. Of course in so doing we should follow the ordinary canons of statutory construction, but they are merely means to the ultimate end. Gideon v. St. Charles, 16 Ariz. 435, 146 P. 925; Deyo v. Arizona Grading & Const. Co., 18 Ariz. 149, L.R.A. 1916E 1257, 157 P. 371; Hicks v. Krigbaum, 13 Ariz. 237, 108 P. 482.

In our opinion, the most important canon which applies to the present situation is that, where there are both a general and a special statute covering a certain subject, they are, if possible, to be construed so as to harmonize and give effect to both. Gideon v. St. Charles, supra. And in such circumstances the special statute is, in the absence of some reason to the contrary, generally held to be an exception to the terms of the general. Rodgers v. United States, 185 U.S. 84, 46 L.Ed. 816, 22 S.Ct. 582; Crane v. Reeder, 22 Mich. 322.

The second canon is that the court should take into consideration the occasion and necessity of the two statutes and the result to be reached thereby. Hawkins v. Bare & Carter, 63 W.Va. 431, 60 S.E. 391; State ex rel. Loftin v. McMillan, 55 Fla. 246, 45 So. 882.

In order that the situation may be understood, it is best to discuss briefly the history of the legislation whose interpretation is in question. Chapter 83, Session Laws of 1925, commonly known as the Workmen's Compensation Act, was approved by the Governor on March 25, 1925. It, however, did not become a law until after the approval by the people of chapter 82 of the same Session Laws, which was an amendment to section 8, article 18, of the Constitution. This amendment and the Compensation Act above cited

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established a general system of workmen's compensation in Arizona which covered, not merely workmen [40 Ariz. 167] in private employment, but also many of those engaged in public service.

The act provided, among other things, the method whereby the compensation to be paid to injured workmen should be collected, and, so far as public employees are concerned, regulated the matter by ...

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