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Como Farms Inc. v. Foran

Decided: February 3, 1950.

COMO FARMS, INC., A NEW JERSEY CORPORATION, ET AL., PETITIONERS,
v.
ARTHUR F. FORAN, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MILK INDUSTRY, DEFENDANT



Jacobs, Donges and Bigelow. The opinion of the court was delivered by Jacobs, S.j.a.d.

Jacobs

[6 NJSuper Page 309] The petitioners in this proceeding seek a determination that the Milk Control Act of 1941 (P.L. 1941, c. 274) and the Reorganization Act of 1948 (P.L. 1948, c. 447), which constituted the Department of Agriculture as a principal department in the executive branch of the State Government and transferred milk control functions to

the Office of Milk Industry within that Department, are unconstitutional.

In August, 1949, the petitioner, Como Farms, Inc., a dealer engaged in the business of buying and selling milk in New Jersey, filed a petition in the Appellate Division for declaratory judgment under Rule 3:81-10, setting forth that the Director of the Office of Milk Industry, acting pursuant to P.L. 1941, c. 274 and P.L. 1948, c. 447, had by order number 48-8 suspended minimum prices to consumers, by orders numbers 49-5 and 6 altered minimum prices payable to producers, and by regulations numbers F 13 to 17, inclusive, imposed restrictions on its business operations, and alleging that the statutes are unconstitutional and the orders and regulations are invalid. Thereafter the Director of the Office of Milk Industry filed his answer which did not question the procedure, admitted the promulgation of the orders and regulations and asserted their validity and the constitutionality of the statutes. In September, 1949, the Port Murray Dairy Co. and other dealers who had taken separate appeals to review the validity of the orders and regulations were permitted to intervene in support of the petition by Como Farms, Inc., and, in accordance with Rule 3:81-11, additional evidence was taken before the Office of Milk Industry and has been made part of the record before this Court.

The petitioners in this proceeding have expressly confined themselves to an attack on the constitutionality of P.L. 1941, c. 274 and P.L. 1948, c. 447, leaving other issues for determination on the appeals by the Port Murray Dairy Co., et al. Accordingly, this opinion will restrict itself to the petitioners' contentions (1) that the Milk Control Act of 1941 (P.L. 1941, c. 274) is unconstitutional because (a) it delegated power without a sufficient legislative standard, and (b) the emergency which caused its passage has terminated, and (2) that the Reorganization Act of 1948 (P.L. 1948, c. 447) is unconstitutional because (a) its title violated Article IV, Section VII, paragraph 4 of the Constitution of 1947 which provides that every law shall embrace but one object expressed in its title and (b) it embodied procedural

provisions for judicial review of administrative decision or action which infringe upon the Supreme Court's rule-making powers and the right to trial by jury.

I.

THE MILK CONTROL ACT OF 1941.

A. The Sufficiency of the Legislative Standard.

In the oft cited case of State Board of Milk Control v. Newark Milk Co. , 118 N.J. Eq. 504 (E. & A. 1935), the Court of Errors and Appeals held that the milk business was affected with a public interest and was subject to regulation either by the Legislature or by an administrative agency acting pursuant to a valid delegation of power from the Legislature. The delegation to be valid must be accompanied by a sufficient basic standard (Van Riper v. Traffic Telephone Workers Federation of New Jersey , 2 N.J. 335, 353 (1949)), but the Court readily sustained the general standard found in the Milk Control Act of 1933 (P.L. 1933, c. 169, p. 357). The petitioners contend that the Newark Milk case may be distinguished on the ground that, unlike the earlier statute, paragraph 22 of the 1941 Act provides that the Director in fixing prices "may," rather than "shall," take into consideration the various grades of milk produced, the varying percentages of butter fat, etc. Where, as here, the public interest so demands, and no clear legislative intent to the contrary appears from the context of the Act, the language used may be construed as mandatory. See Clark v. Elizabeth , 61 N.J.L. 565, 581 (E. & A. 1898); Fagan v. Hoboken , 85 N.J.L. 297, 299 (E. & A. 1913). Indeed, in Bankr. Waldron & Sons Co. v. Milk Control Board , 131 N.J.L. 267, 270 (Sup. Ct. 1944), affirmed, 131 N.J.L. 388 (E. & A. 1944), the former Supreme Court in paraphrasing the 1941 Act interpreted paragraph 22 as imposing "a duty to consider" the elements enumerated therein.

Furthermore, we are satisfied that, independent of paragraph 22, the 1941 Act does not vest ...


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