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Jenney v. Arizona Exp., Inc.

Supreme Court of Arizona

June 9, 1961

William LeB. JENNEY, an individual dba Jenney Freight Line, and Corporation Commission of the State of Arizona, George F. Senner, Jr., William. T. Brooks and E. T. 'Eddie' Williams, Jr., as the Corporation Commissioners of the State of Arizona and Members of said Commission, Appellants,
v.
ARIZONA EXPRESS, INC., an Arizona corporation, Appellee.

Page 665

Rehearing Denied July 11, 1961.

Page 666

[89 Ariz. 344] Wade Church, then Atty. Gen., and Robert W. Pickrell, the Atty. Gen., Moore, Vlahovich & Greenwood, Bisbee, for appellants.

Beer, Seaman & Polley, Phoenix, for appellee.

[89 Ariz. 345] UDALL, Justice.

Appellant Jenney and appellee Arizona Express both filed applications with the Corporation Commission seeking to obtain certificates of convenience and necessity to haul freight from Tucson to Sierra Vista and intermediate points over a route--part of which was not then being served by a line haul permit. Arizona Express held a certificate of convenience and necessity to haul freight between the two terminal points but over a partially different route. The corporation commission granted the application of Jenney and denied the application of Arizona Express. Thereafter Arizona Express brought two actions in the superior court seeking to set aside the orders of the corporation commission. The causes, No. 103807 and No. 103808, were consolidated for trial. Jenney intervened in both actions.

After hearing all issues including Jenney's motion to dismiss on the ground that the superior court was without jurisdiction for the reason that the actions were not timely filed under the statute authorizing such actions the court vacated both orders of the commission. The court entered orders that the decision of the commission to grant Jenney a certificate of convenience and necessity be vacated and that the decision of the commission denying the application of Arizona Express be set aside with directions to issue a certificate of convenience and necessity to Arizona Express. This appeal is from the action of the superior court.

The initial question which has been raised and must be resolved by this court is whether the superior court was without jurisdiction to entertain these two causes of action.

A.R.S. § 40-253, subd. B provides:

'No claim arising from any order or decision of the commission shall accrue in any court to any corporation or person, or the state, unless the corporation or person, or the state, makes, before the effective date of the order or decision, application to the commission for a rehearing.'

A.R.S. § 40-254, subd. A requires that any such action in the superior court may be commenced within thirty days after the rehearing is denied or granted and not afterwards. Thus two questions must be answered in this case: First, when were the motions for rehearing denied, and second, were these actions filed within thirty days of these denials?

The answer to both questions turns on the correct interpretation of A.R.S. § 40-253, subd. D, which reads as follows:

'An application for a rehearing made ten days or more before the effective date of the order on which a rehearing is sought shall be granted or denied before the effective date, or the order [89 Ariz. 346] shall be suspended until the application is granted or denied. If application is made within less than ten days before the effective date, and not granted within twenty days, it shall be deemed denied, unless the effective date of the order is, within the twenty days, extended for the period of the pendency of the application. If an application for a rehearing is granted without a suspension of the order involved, the commission shall forthwith hear the matter, and determine it within twenty days after final submission. If the determination is not made within such time, the application shall be deemed denied.'

We agree with appellant that the effective date of an order of the commission granting

Page 667

or denying a certificate of convenience and necessity is twenty days after that order is entered. While the effective date is nowhere clearly set out we think that in this case the uniform interpretation applied to this section by the commission is determinative. A.R.S. § 40-243 gives the commission authority to adopt rules of practice and procedure. Pursuant to this authority the commission has since at least 1952 uniformly adhered to the rule that the effective date of the order is twenty days after the date of the order. Where the legislature re-enacts a statute, as was done in the case of § 40-253, subd. D in the revision of 1956, after uniform construction by the officers required to act under it, the presumption is that the legislature knew of such construction and adopted it in re-enacting the statute. Van Veen v. County of Graham, 13 Ariz. 167, 108 P. 252. Thus, although we are not bound by the administrative interpretation, where any serious doubt as to the proper interpretation exists we will not adopt one different from that adopted by the appropriate administrative body. Long v. Dick, 87 Ariz. 25, 347 P.2d 581. Since the time of effective date is nowhere clearly set out and the commission's interpretation is clearly consistent with the statute on its face we see no reason to depart from the presumption of legislative acquiescence in administrative interpretation. The effective dates established in §§ 40-247 and 40-250 (one twenty and the other thirty days after the entry of the orders authorized by those sections) have no relation to § 40-253 and cast no light on the matter.

Since the effective date of each order of the commission in this case was twenty days after the date of the respective orders, the rehearing was denied, and the thirty day period in which action could be brought in the superior court commenced running at one of two possible times. If the application for rehearing were filed more than ten days before the effective date then ยง 40-253, subd. D establishes one timetable under which the commission must grant or deny the application. If, as in this case it was, the application for rehearing is made less [89 Ariz. 347] than ten days before the effective date then the commission has a different timetable under which it has twenty days from the filing of the application to ...


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