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September 14, 1976

RITE AID CORPORATION, a corporation of the State of Delaware, et al., Plaintiffs,

The opinion of the court was delivered by: GARTH

GARTH, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiffs, Rite Aid Corporation, Rite Aid Pharmacy of Bergenfield, Inc., and Milton H. Silver seek to declare unconstitutional and to enjoin the enforcement of certain New Jersey statutes which regulate the practice of pharmacy. The statutes challenged are N.J.S.A. 45:14-1, 3, 12, and 35 of the New Jersey Pharmacy Act and N.J.S.A. 52:14B-10(c) of the New Jersey Administrative Procedure Act. After a plenary trial on the merits before a three-judge district court convened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2281 et seq., we have concluded that it would be inappropriate to abstain from exercising federal jurisdiction and that the plaintiffs have failed to carry their burden of establishing the unconstitutionality of the challenged statutes.


 The retail pharmacy industry in New Jersey distributes pharmaceuticals through both independently owned pharmacies and corporations owning several pharmacies (chain stores). *fn1" Of the approximate 1,560 retail pharmacies in New Jersey, 168 or 10.8% are owned and operated as chain stores. Rite Aid *fn2" is the largest pharmacy chain store system in New Jersey. Since 1966, when Rite Aid opened its first store in New Jersey, it has grown in number to 51 stores located throughout the state. In addition to prescription items, Rite Aid sells health and beauty aids at discounts of 15 to 35%. Rite Aid's prescription prices are 15 to 20% lower than the average price charged by an independently owned pharmacy.

 The practice of pharmacy in New Jersey is regulated by the Board of Pharmacy of the State of New Jersey (Board) which is composed of five registered pharmacists "actively engaged in conducting a pharmacy" (N.J.S.A. 45:14-1), one lay "public member" representing the interests of the public (N.J.S.A. 45:1-2.2(b)) and one lay state executive official (N.J.S.A. 45:1-2.2(c)). In appointing the five pharmacist board members, the Governor gives consideration to the recommendations submitted by the New Jersey Pharmaceutical Association. See N.J.S.A. 45:1-2.2(a); Campbell dep. at 96-98. At the time this action was brought, all the pharmacist Board members owned independent retail pharmacies. *fn3"

 On April 6, 1973 Paul Pumpian, the Secretary to the Board, received two letters complaining that Rite Aid's store in Bergenfield, New Jersey (Rite Aid of Bergenfield, Inc.) was improperly filling prescriptions. Pumpian, at the request of the Board, referred the letters to the Enforcement Bureau of the Division of Consumer Affairs. The Enforcement Bureau is that organization of New Jersey state government charged with conducting investigations and inspections for the nineteen professional or occupational licensing boards within the Division of Consumer Affairs. From April to July, 1973, the Enforcement Bureau conducted an investigation of the Bergenfield pharmacy. *fn4"

 On August 27, 1973 the Enforcement Bureau forwarded the written report of its investigation to the Board. On the basis of that report the Board members concluded that there was sufficient cause to believe that Rite Aid of Bergenfield had filled and refilled prescriptions without authorization, and that it had sold and distributed an adulterated pharmaceutical. The Board forwarded the report to the Attorney General's office for the institution of disciplinary proceedings. Thereafter, a complaint was served charging Rite Aid of Bergenfield and Milton Silver and David Carter, pharmacists at Bergenfield, with unlawfully dispensing and selling prescription drugs in violation of N.J.S.A. 45:14-26.1 (filling or refilling prescriptions without authorization); N.J.S.A. 45:14-15 (recording of prescriptions); and N.J.S.A. 45:14-16 (failure to strictly follow prescription).

 The Board determined that a hearing officer should be appointed under a procedure whereby his findings would be reviewed and the scope of disciplinary action, if any, would be established by the Board. The Attorney General of New Jersey provided the Board at its request, with a list of available hearing officers. The list was composed of retired judges of the New Jersey Superior Court. From this list the Board chose Judge Nelson K. Mintz.

 On July 29 and 30, 1974, Judge Mintz as hearing officer held hearings regarding the alleged Rite Aid violations. Thereafter, on September 24, 1974, his report issued, finding that Rite Aid of Bergenfield had filled and refilled prescriptions without authorization, dispensed a prescription in adulterated form, failed to affix a proper label on a prescription, and failed to properly record the name of the dispensing pharmacist. As to Milton Silver, Judge Mintz concluded that he dispensed a prescription drug without authorization and without affixing a label to the container. Carter was not found to have violated any provision of the pharmacy laws. Judge Mintz recommended that Rite Aid of Bergenfield's pharmacy permit be suspended for thirty days and that Silver's license be suspended for seven days. No monetary fine was recommended.

 Rite Aid *fn5" filed exceptions with the Board. However, on December 6, 1974 the Board issued its Decision and Order which adopted the entire report of its hearing officers, but increased the suspension of Rite Aid of Bergenfield's pharmacy permit to ninety days. *fn6" The Board also modified the hearing officer's recommendation as to Silver. Silver's license was not suspended, but in lieu thereof, the Board assessed a civil penalty of $ 325.00 which was suspended.

 Thereafter, Rite Aid applied to a single judge of the district court for a preliminary injunction staying the operation of the Board's order pending a decision on these proceedings. The Board consented to a stay of its order pending the outcome of this litigation.

 On January 17, 1975 Rite Aid filed its Second Amended Complaint and Request for Convocation of Three Judge Court. *fn7" The Complaint named the Board, its secretary, the five pharmacist Board members and the Governor and Attorney General of New Jersey as defendants.

 The First and Second Counts of the Complaint allege that N.J.S.A. 45:14-1 *fn8" requires the majority of the Board's membership to be composed solely of competing independent pharmacists and therefore is unconstitutional on its face and as applied to Rite Aid because such Board members have a personal interest and bias in regulating and adjudicating cases involving Rite Aid. The First Count also alleges that the present Board has manifested its bias against Rite Aid by obstructing new Rite Aid license applications, discriminatorily enforcing the pharmacy laws against Rite Aid and attempting to assess discriminatory penalties.

 The Third Count alleges that the Board's investigation, prosecution and adjudication of complaints pursuant to N.J.S.A. 45:14-3, 12 and 35 is unconstitutional. *fn9"

 The Fourth Count alleges that the designation of a hearing officer pursuant to N.J.S.A. 52:14B-10(c) *fn10" was unauthorized and unconstitutional as the statute fails to delineate standards for the selection of a hearing officer.

 The Fifth Count alleges that the Board has enforced the pharmacy statutes against Rite Aid in an unequal, arbitrary and discriminatory manner.

 The Complaint seeks the convening of a three judge district court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2281, a declaratory judgment holding N.J.S.A. 45:14-1, 3, 12, 35 and N.J.S.A. 52:14B-10(c) unconstitutional on their face and as applied, injunctive relief restraining the enforcement of these statutes and an order declaring the Board's Decision and Order as to Rite Aid null and void and enjoining its enforcement. *fn11"

  On January 30, 1975 an order constituting a three judge district court was filed. After discovery each party moved for summary judgment on all counts of the complaint. We denied both motions on January 6, 1976. A full plenary trial followed.


 The defendants have argued that the doctrine of equitable restraint requires us to abstain, leaving the plaintiffs to their state remedies. In support of this contention, we are referred to Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 91 S. Ct. 746, 27 L. Ed. 2d 669 (1971) and in particular Huffman v. Pursue, 420 U.S. 592, 95 S. Ct. 1200, 43 L. Ed. 2d 482 reh. denied, 421 U.S. 971, 95 S. Ct. 1969, 44 L. Ed. 2d 463 (1975).

 Younger involved the enjoining of a state criminal proceeding with which we are not concerned here. Huffman extended the Younger doctrine to a "state proceeding which in important respects is more akin to a criminal prosecution than are most civil cases." 420 U.S. at 604, 95 S. Ct. at 1208. In Huffman, a sheriff and a prosecuting attorney in Ohio sought to close a theatre specializing in the display of allegedly pornographic films which had been adjudged obscene after adversary hearings. The proceeding was brought under a state statute which provided that the exhibition of obscene films constituted a nuisance. The state court determined that the theatre had exhibited obscene films and ordered it closed for a year. Rather than appealing that state court order, an action in federal district court was filed based on 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff there sought injunctive relief and a declaration that the Ohio statute was unconstitutional. The district court reached the merits of the controversy and enjoined the theatre's closing. The United States Supreme Court vacated the district court order and remanded for its consideration of Younger abstention.

 The Supreme Court in discussing the application of Younger abstention, which heretofore had been restricted to criminal proceedings, said:


The State is a party to the Court of Common Pleas proceeding, and the proceeding is both in aid of and closely related to criminal statutes which prohibit the dissemination of obscene materials. Thus, an offense to the State's interest in the nuisance litigation is likely to be every bit as great as it would be were this a criminal proceeding. Cf. Younger v. Harris, supra, 401 U.S. 37, at 55 n.2, 91 S. Ct. 746, at 757, 27 L. Ed. 2d 669 (Stewart, J. concurring). Similarly, while in this case the District Court's injunction has not directly disrupted Ohio's criminal justice system, it has disrupted that State's efforts to protect the very interests which underlie its criminal laws and to obtain compliance with precisely the standards which are embodied in its criminal laws. (Footnote omitted.)


420 U.S. at 604-05, 95 S. Ct. at 1208

 Thus, the most recent Supreme Court discussion of Younger comity considerations in a civil context extended the reach of the doctrine of equitable restraint only to those civil proceedings which are in aid of, or closely related to, a state's enforcement of its criminal laws. The cases following Huffman in which Younger abstention was applied, however, have in many instances gone beyond the strict requirement of a criminal nexus. These cases have apparently engrafted onto Younger a substitute condition which would require abstention where the state has a strong and peculiar relationship to, or interest in, the existing state proceedings. The courts which have so extended Younger equate the identified "strong state interest" with the quasi criminal nexus required by Huffman. Anonymous v. Association of the Bar of City of New York, 515 F.2d 427 (2nd Cir. 1975) (attorney disciplinary proceedings characterized as "quasi criminal"); Greene v. Virginia State Bar Association, 411 F. Supp. 512 (E.D. Va.1976) (3 judge dist. ct.) (attorney disciplinary proceedings); Niles v. Lowe, 407 F. Supp. 132 (D.Haw.1976) (3 judge dist. ct.) (attorney disciplinary proceedings); Mildner v. Gulotta, 405 F. Supp. 182 (E.D.N.Y.1975) (3 judge dist. ct.) (attorney disciplinary proceedings); McCune v. Frank, 521 F.2d 1152 (2d Cir. 1975) (police officer disciplinary proceedings); Ahrensfeld v. Stephens, 528 F.2d 193 (7th Cir. 1975) (state eminent domain proceedings); Littleton v. Fisher, 530 F.2d 691 (6th Cir. 1976) (child custody proceedings); Burdick v. Miech, 409 F. Supp. 982 (E.D.Wis.1975) (3 judge dist. ct.) (bastardy proceedings); Lerner v. Wittig, 394 F. Supp. 866 (E.D.Wis.1975) (municipal court proceedings). *fn12"

 Presumably, this further extension of Younger was based upon the underlying considerations of comity found in Younger. However, we are not convinced that the Supreme Court's holding in Huffman requires this additional extension of Younger to civil cases where a criminal nexus is absent. Nor need we decide whether, if faced with situations similar to those reflected in the cases noted above, we too, would have relied upon a "strong state interest" (as being comparable to a "criminal nexus") to suffice for Younger-Huffman abstention.

 Here the record discloses neither a sufficient criminal nexus nor a sufficiently strong state interest to require abstention.

 While we recognize that New Jersey has enacted legislation which provides for criminal penalties for certain activities relating to controlled dangerous substances (see N.J.S.A. 24:21-1 et seq.), these provisions are not "closely related to or akin to" the New Jersey statutes regulating the practice of pharmacy. N.J.S.A. 45:14-1 et seq. which regulates the practice of pharmacy in New Jersey appears as a unified, cohesive and comprehensive statutory scheme with its own sanction and penalty provisions. The sanctions and penalties specified are completely civil in nature and are enforced through civil rather than criminal actions. See, e.g., N.J.S.A. 45:14-26.3, 27, 35 and 37.

 Moreover, there is no intimation or suggestion in the record that criminal charges against Rite Aid have ever been contemplated during these past 27 months or that criminal charges have ever been employed at any time in aid of enforcement of the pharmacy laws.

 Thus, restricting ourselves to the qualifications set forth by the Supreme Court in Huffman, there is no reason or basis for our abstaining here. *fn13"

 Furthermore, even if we were inclined to follow the expanded approach of the authorities listed above and seek to abstain on the basis of a "strong state interest", we would not do so here, for as indicated, the record discloses no such interest.

 We have here no more than a routine, garden variety state agency administrative proceeding. It is neither quasi criminal in character, ( Anonymous v. Association of the Bar of City of New York, supra) nor is there present such a strong state interest as can be equated to that interest which a state has in its own criminal proceedings ( Burdick v. Miech, supra at 984-985). No such special circumstances appear here as might otherwise warrant abstention based on a strong state interest in proceedings involving eminent domain ( Ahrensfeld v. Stephens, supra), bastardy ( Burdick v. Miech, supra), child custody ( Littleton v. Fisher, supra), or attorney discipline ( Anonymous v. Association of the Bar of City of New York, supra).

 We do not suggest or intimate that New Jersey is unconcerned with the proper regulation of the practice of pharmacy. We assume that New Jersey is as concerned with the regulation of pharmacy as it is concerned with the regulation of all similar professions and occupations. (See N.J.S.A. Title 45 generally). However, that concern, unless evidenced by a stronger state interest than appears in this record, is insufficient to meet the abstention requirements of even those cases which have extended Younger beyond Huffman. Were we to hold otherwise on a record such as this, we would be expanding the doctrine of Younger-Huffman abstention to all and every state agency proceeding regardless of its nature. This we decline to do.

 Nor do we think this Court should exercise its equitable discretion under Railroad Commission of Texas v. Pullman Co., 312 U.S. 496, 61 S. Ct. 643, 85 L. Ed. 971 (1941). In Pullman the Supreme Court held that where an interpretation by the state courts of an unresolved question of state law may avoid the necessity of deciding a constitutional question, the federal court should abstain from adjudicating the constitutional question until the state courts could interpret the statute. "Pullman abstention", however, is founded on the exercise of the equitable discretion of the district court, Baggett v. Bullitt, 377 U.S. 360, 375-76, 84 S. Ct. 1316, 12 L. Ed. 2d 377 (1964), and is not required where it is unlikely that the resolution of the state law question will significantly affect the federal constitutional claims. Harris County Commissioners Court v. Moore, 420 U.S. 77, 83-84, 95 S. Ct. 870, 43 L. Ed. 2d 32 (1975). See also Bellotti v. Baird, 428 U.S. 132, 96 S. Ct. 2857, 49 L. Ed. 2d 844 (1976).

 The pertinent state law here, N.J.S.A. 45:14-1, provides for the membership of the Board of Pharmacy:


The board shall consist of five members, to be appointed from time to time as hereinafter directed, by the governor, each of whom shall be a citizen of and an able and skilled registered pharmacist in this state, shall have been registered as a pharmacist in this state for at least five years prior to his appointment, shall be actually engaged in conducting a pharmacy at the time of his appointment and shall continue in the practice of pharmacy during the term of his office. (Emphasis added.)

 In its Complaint, Rite Aid alleged that this statute discriminates against chain store pharmacies in that pharmacists employed in such establishments may not be chosen to serve as members of the Board of Pharmacy. Second Amended Complaint, First Count, para. 7. Rite Aid predicates its contention on the requirement that members be "engaged in conducting a pharmacy" which it interprets as meaning that the pharmacist must be the owner of the pharmacy.

 While the courts of New Jersey have not yet construed this clause, the Governor has appointed pharmacists to the Board who did not own their own pharmacies. *fn14" This Executive interpretation notwithstanding, we think that a definitive construction of the statutory language by the New Jersey courts would not avoid the necessity of deciding the constitutional questions which Rite Aid has raised.

 Rite Aid contends that N.J.S.A. 45:14-1 is facially unconstitutional because it requires that pharmacists regulate their business competitors and is unconstitutional as applied (to Rite Aid and to chain stores in general) because independent pharmacists are required to regulate chain store pharmacies. *fn15" Because of the sweep of Rite Aid's claims of unconstitutionality it would make no difference as to which construction a court placed on N.J.S.A. 45:14-1. Given either construction, Rite Aid's constitutional claims are without merit (see discussion infra). Thus, abstention here would only delay ultimate adjudication on the merits, see Baggett v. Bullitt, supra, 377 U.S. at 375-379, 84 S. Ct. 1316, 12 L. Ed. 2d 377. Since we are satisfied that abstention could not result in any construction of N.J.S.A. 45:14-1 by the New Jersey courts which could avoid the constitutional questions raised, it would be inappropriate to exercise Pullman abstention.


 Rite Aid first attacks N.J.S.A. 45:14-1 on its face as being in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, because the statute requires that pharmacists be regulated and disciplined by a board composed primarily of competitors. Thus, argues Rite Aid, the Board members are necessarily biased and can neither be impartial in their regulatory functions nor in adjudicating alleged violations of the Pharmacy Act by plaintiffs and other non Board-member pharmacists.

 It is fundamental that one accused of violating the law is entitled to a fair trial in a fair tribunal. Tumey v. Ohio, 273 U.S. 510, 47 S. Ct. 437, 71 L. Ed. 749 (1927); In re Murchison, 349 U.S. 133, 75 S. Ct. 623, 99 L. Ed. 942 (1955). In achieving that standard we have sought to prevent not only actual bias, but also the appearance of bias. In re Murchison, supra at 136, 75 S. Ct. 623. To this end, the Supreme Court has stated that "every procedure which would offer a possible temptation to the average man as a judge . . . not to hold the balance nice, clear, and true between the state and the accused, deprives the latter due process of law." Tumey v. Ohio, supra, 273 U.S. at 532, 47 S. Ct. at 444. It is clear that where the adjudicator has a substantial pecuniary interest in the outcome, the probability of actual bias is too high to be constitutionally tolerable. Withrow v. Larkin, 421 U.S. 35, 46-47, 95 S. Ct. 1456, 43 L. Ed. 2d 712 (1975); Gibson v. Berryhill, 411 U.S. 564, 579, 93 S. Ct. 1689, 36 L. Ed. 2d 488 (1973).

 We do not believe that the Board, consisting as it does of five pharmacists and two lay persons as required by N.J.S.A. 45:14-1, creates a situation of probable bias in the regulation of pharmacists. The claim made by Rite Aid is similar to the argument advanced by the plaintiff in Kachian v. Optometry Examining Board, 44 Wis. 2d 1, 170 N.W.2d 743, 747-48 (1969). In this argument Rite Aid is not claiming actual bias but rather contends that ". . . there is an inbuilt, inescapable even if indirect, financial interest involved when [a pharmacist] board member sits in judgment on a fellow-[pharmacist]." Kachian, 170 N.W.2d at 747-48.

 Admittedly, the practice and conduct of a retail pharmacy primarily involves commercial activity in which various retail pharmacies compete for customers. Cf. Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748, 96 S. Ct. 1817, 48 L. Ed. 2d 346 (1976). However, mere theoretical competition alone has never been a sufficient predicate for an inductive conclusion of probable economic bias. Apoian v. State, 89 S.D. 539, 235 N.W.2d 641 (S.D. 1975); Blanchard v. Michigan State Bd. of Exam. in Optometry, 40 Mich. App. 320, 198 N.W.2d 804 (1972); Kachian v. Optometry Examining Board, supra.

 Rite Aid, however, argues that Gibson v. Berryhill, supra, and Wall v. American Optometric Association, Inc., 379 F. Supp. 175 (N.D. Ga.) (3 judge dist. ct.) aff'd mem. 419 U.S. 888, 95 S. Ct. 166, 42 L. Ed. 2d 134 (1974), support its facial attack on the N.J.S.A. 45:14-1. We cannot agree.

 Gibson v. Berryhill involved a disciplinary proceeding against a non-self-employed optometrist who was not, and could not become a member of the Alabama Optometric Association. The disciplinary proceeding was conducted by the Alabama Board of Optometry whose members were limited by statute to members of the Association, which itself, limited its members to self employed optometrists. Thus, out of Alabama's 192 practicing optometrists, only the 100 Association members were eligible for appointment to the Board. On that record, the Supreme Court agreed "that the pecuniary interest of the members of the Board of Optometry had sufficient substance to disqualify them, given the context in which [the] case arose." 411 U.S. at 579, 93 S. Ct. at 1698.

 In Wall v. American Optometric Association, Inc., supra, the members of the Georgia State Board of Examiners in Optometry were traditionally chosen by the governor from among the members of the Georgia Optometric Association, a private organization which was composed of "dispensing" as contrasted with "prescribing" optometrists. *fn16" Thus, out of Georgia's 300 optometrists, only the 200 members of the Association were eligible for appointment to the Board which regulated the practice of optometry. In this circumstance, the district court found that the board members had a substantial pecuniary interest and hence could not be "called disinterested in the outcome of plaintiffs' license revocating proceedings." 379 F. Supp. at 189.

 It is clear that both Gibson and Wall involve constitutional attacks addressed not to the face of the statutes involved, but rather to the manner in which they were applied. In neither case did the courts rest their holdings on the fact that mere board membership of individuals in the identical profession as those to be regulated, created a temptation to be biased. *fn17"

 There is nothing that appears on the face of N.J.S.A. 45:14-1 to indicate the presence of that kind of substantial pecuniary interest which was found to disqualify board members in Gibson and Wall. As in Gibson and Wall, to determine if such an interest exists, we must look to more than the mere words of the statute. Evidence is required. Recognizing that the plaintiffs here attack the statute on both facial and "as applied" grounds, we therefore ordered the taking of evidence to afford the plaintiffs an opportunity to prove, if they could, the existence of the required substantial pecuniary interest. We treat with that argument infra.

 In connection with the instant facial attack, however, we have been shown no basis for us to require the disqualification of board members just by reason of their sharing the same profession as plaintiffs. *fn18" Nor have we been shown any authority which holds that, as a matter of law, mere self regulation of a profession without more, violates due process. We decline to so hold and therefore reject Rite Aid's facial argument. *fn19"


 The main thrust of Rite Aid's complaint is that it is constitutionally impermissible for independent pharmacists to regulate chain store pharmacies in general and Rite Aid pharmacies in particular.

 To succeed in this argument, Rite Aid must establish that the statute "as applied", results in a violation of due process in that the members of the Board have such a substantial pecuniary interest that they cannot be impartial or disinterested in the outcome of any proceeding involving Rite Aid or any other chain store. We therefore examine the record made before us to determine whether such a substantial pecuniary interest has been proved.

 In view of Rite Aid's position, we would have expected that the proofs would reveal, at the least, evidence bearing upon:

 1) The total dollar volume of pharmacy sales in New Jersey, and Rite Aid's (and other chains') share of that volume, with appropriate economic projections.

 2) The essential nature of the practice of pharmacy in terms of customer and physician custom, trade practices (including credit, and prescription and non-prescription pricing and discounts), competition, location, convenience, etc.

 3) The effect, if any, of chains on large, as well as small independents; the effect of multi-store independents and the overall effect of geographic locations on any of these categories.

 4) All demographic factors and relevant market and other economic considerations as affect the relationship of chains to independents in the instant context, including, perhaps, evidence of surveys or feasibility studies revealing the basis of customer or physician preference in the choice of a pharmacy.

 By no means are these evidential suggestions intended to be exhaustive or all inclusive. Nor would we expect or require introduction of material from every evidentiary category mentioned. However, while the plaintiffs have produced evidence in respect to some particulars in order to satisfy their burden, they were required to develop a record from which we could find that by reason of the intrinsic competitive nature of the practice of pharmacy, any independent pharmacist, (no matter how small or large his own establishment, no matter where it is located vis a vis a Rite Aid store or any other chain or multi-independent pharmacy, and no matter the relevant trade practices or customs) would be so economically affected by the establishment of a Rite Aid or other chain store anywhere in New Jersey that he could not be impartial in deciding the outcome of a proceeding involving Rite Aid.

 Our examination of the record reveals that plaintiffs have fallen far short of carrying this burden. Government of Virgin Islands v. Testamark, 528 F.2d 742, 744 (3d Cir. 1976).

 Perhaps the most significant omission from the record before us is the absence of any evidence from which we could determine the proportionate share of the dollar market in New Jersey held by Rite Aid in particular *fn20" and the pharmacy chains in general. This record is completely barren of information as to whether Rite Aid controls 1%, 5%, 10%, or 50% of the pharmacy dollar volume in New Jersey. It is obvious that if Rite Aid's dollar volume is but a minute fraction of the total dollar volume generated by pharmacies, the pecuniary interest of competitive pharmacists is far less than if Rite Aid controls 25 to 50% of the market. *fn21" See Gibson and Wall, supra.

  The record before us discloses only that there are 168 retail pharmacies out of 1,560 (10.8%) in the state that are owned and operated by chains. Of these 168 pharmacies, Rite Aid owns 51 (having grown from two stores in 1966) and thus operates 3.3% of the retail pharmacies in this state. The record also reveals that Rite Aid advertises on a statewide basis its discount prices for nonprescription items.

 However, the evidence shows that despite its discounting practices and advertising, Rite Aid's percentage of all prescriptions filled in New Jersey by all pharmacies has been but 3.4 to 3.5%; a proportion commensurate with its number of pharmacies. *fn22"

 This data, of course, deals only with Rite Aid's percentage of the prescription market. As we have just pointed out, the record is completely silent as to the percentage of the total pharmacy dollar volume held by (1) the chains and (2) by Rite Aid.

 Nor does the other evidence introduced remedy this deficiency. That evidence may be summarized as follows:

 Timothy Noonan, Rite Aid's Vice President for Pharmacy Operations, testified as to the growth and location of the Rite Aid stores in New Jersey. He described Rite Aid's extensive advertising of discounts in newspapers, and on radio and television. The Rite Aid prices for nonprescription items are discounted 15 to 35%. Noonan testified that Rite Aid's prescription prices are 15 to 20% lower than those charged by the average independent.

 Noonan stated that Rite Aid recruits personnel for its stores by offers of higher salaries and greater benefits than those provided by the independents. Rite Aid employs about 900 people in its New Jersey stores of which approximately 90 are pharmacists.

 In Noonan's opinion, location and price were the two most important factors governing the customers' selection of pharmacies. Customers' choices are also affected by advertising, inventory, personnel and atmosphere, but not to the same extent as location and price. He believed that due to Rite Aid's lower prices and advertising, its stores were in competition with most of the pharmacies in the state.

 However, even given Rite Aid's highly competitive ability, Noonan admitted that 60% of Rite Aid's customers do not purchase their prescriptions in the Rite Aid store where they buy nonprescription items. Furthermore, Noonan testified that he did not know as a fact that particular Rite Aid stores had drawn customers away from local independents.

 Franklin Brown, Vice President and General Counsel for Rite Aid, testified as to the national growth of Rite Aid. He also described what he believed was a "freeze" placed on the processing of applications for Rite Aid stores by the Board as a result of the violations found in the Bergenfield store.

 In addition to the testimony of Noonan and Brown, Rite Aid introduced portions of depositions of five of the pharmacist Board members in order to show concern by independents about the growth of Rite Aid. We discuss some aspects of these depositions infra.

 Paul Pumpian the Secretary of the Board of Pharmacy testified on behalf of the state. His testimony covered many areas of the Board's functions, but we refer here to just those portions material to Rite Aid's claims.

  He testified that in the two years preceding the Bergenfield hearing none of the 35 disciplinary proceedings heard by the Board involved chain stores. He testified that two previous members of the Board did not own their own pharmacies and that Mr. Rothberg who is presently a member of the Board does not own his own pharmacy.

 As to complaints, Pumpian testified that they were investigated not by the Board but by the Enforcement Bureau of the Division of Consumer Affairs. Pumpian recalled that while he received complaints by independents against Rite Aid, he received more complaints from independents against other independents.

 Mrs. Vivian Petro, a lay member of the Board for three and a half years, testified that Board members displayed no special interest in one type of pharmacy over another with respect to regulation or discipline.

 The other testimony adduced, while interesting, does not bear directly on Rite Aid's "as applied" argument. Rite Aid did inform us of certain disciplinary actions being pressed against certain of the Board members but we fail to appreciate the significance of these facts in the "as applied" setting. *fn23"

 This record is clearly distinguishable from Gibson and Wall. In Gibson, the district court determined that the aim of the board was to revoke the licenses of nearly 50% of the optometrists in Alabama because they were salaried employees of business corporations and not self employed as were the members of the board. A temptation for bias was found because the removal from practice, and hence competition of all salaried optometrists which constituted approximately 50% of the total number of optometrists was likely to lead to the economic advantage of the optometrists in private practice. *fn24" Thus, the pecuniary interest of the members of the Board of Optometry composed solely of private practitioners who stood to benefit from the suspension of the salaried optometrist's licenses was so substantial as to require their disqualification.

 Like Gibson, Wall v. American Optometric Association, Inc., supra involved an attempt by the regulatory board to eliminate from competition a large segment of the optometry profession in Georgia. As previously set forth the board members in Wall were chosen from an association which excluded one third of all optometrists from its membership. The district court correctly concluded that the association members had a substantial financial interest which precluded them from regulating non-association members. Furthermore, the court specifically found that


If plaintiffs were prevented from practicing optometry in Georgia, their patients would have to seek optometric services from others. Concededly, some of these patients would turn to non-members of the [Association] for optometric services. Some would probably go to ophthalmologists. Possibly some, who live near the borders of the state, might go outside the state. But it cannot be disputed that some would turn to the defendants and their fellow members of the [Association]. Although it is impossible to determine in advance exactly what the benefit to the [Association] would be if the licenses of all the plaintiffs were revoked, we think it impossible to characterize the benefit, as the defendants have, as "remote and speculative." Plaintiffs have thousands of patients. Those patients would go somewhere, and there is a substantial likelihood that many of them would go to the defendants with their patronage. In such a situation, we find it inconceivable that the defendants could be called disinterested in the outcome of plaintiffs' license revocation proceedings.

 379 F. Supp. 175, 188-89.

 Unlike Gibson and Wall, the record here does not demonstrate that the independents are taking concerted action to eliminate competition from either the chains (10.8% of all pharmacies) or Rite Aid (3.3% of all pharmacies). Nor does the record indicate that the suspension of the Rite Aid Bergenfield permit will result in any personal or financial benefit to the members of the Board. *fn25"

 Rite Aid, however, further argues that the independents fear chains and hence Rite Aid, and are desirous of protecting themselves against the alleged threat of Rite Aid's expansion. To support this argument, Rite Aid relies on the testimony of three Board members. *fn26" However, we read that testimony as highly equivocal and conjectural. In essence, while Rite Aid contends this is "hard" testimony revealing a pronounced fear of an antipathy toward chain stores, we cannot agree. A fair reading of the testimony taken on deposition leaves us with no more than an impression that some independents "talk" about chains and dislike competition. No identification is made of the independents or their number who harbor a fear of chains or Rite Aid, and we could not, on the quality of this evidence, find that pervasive bias throughout the independent constituency in the pharmacy practice as would require disqualification of all independent board members.

 Characteristic of the testimony is that of Board members Campbell and Sussman. Campbell testified in part:

 Q Have any owners of individual pharmacies such as your own discussed with you the growth of Rite Aid Pharmacies in New Jersey?

 A I can't recall specifically.

 Q Well, has the subject ever come up at any time that you can recall?

 A I have heard it.

 Q What have you heard?

 A That they're expanding, probably at association meetings.

 . . .

 Q Mr. Campbell, what would be the effect of a Rite Aid opening in your geographical area? How would that affect your business?

 A That's speculative, I don't know. We have had two so-called discount operations right in our back yard in the same location, Sun Ray, and they abandoned the site and Thrift moved in and our volume has never -- our gross has remained the same or increased over that period of time.

  Q Do you know whether or not any of the individual Board members are located near to a Rite Aid Pharmacy?

  A I don't know.

  Q Getting back to the conversations that you had regarding the size of Rite Aid and the pricing practices of Rite Aid and the growth of Rite Aid, do you recall how often you might have had those conversations?

  A Not often, no.

  Q More than once, though?

  A Probably more than once.

   Q And this conversation would be in the context of the business interest of the particular individual with whom you were speaking. Is that right?

  A You mean as viewing them as competition?

  Q Yes.

  . . .

  Q In fact, Mr. Campbell, isn't there an antipathy between an individual owner of a pharmacy and a chain store pharmacy?

  A Now I'm giving my age away. When I first became active in the county and state association there was a strong feeling of resentment as the chains were growing, but -- and I remember years ago, chain store pharmacies were afraid to apply for membership in our association, this isn't true. Right now the president of our local county manager [sic] has been the manager of a Thrift store in Trenton and he's one of the most highly regarded men in the association. As I say, he's our president.

  Q That doesn't dilute the fact that there's still this feeling between the individual -- on the part of the individual owner that the chain store is jeopardizing their business, that feeling exists, doesn't it, Mr. Campbell?

  A Sure it exists, but it's subsiding.

  . . .

  Q This feeling of antipathy is something not only you but other members of the Board of Pharmacy are aware of?

  A Yes, we're aware of it.

  Q And how do you become aware of this feeling of antipathy?

  A Well, we're -- we're members of the Board of Pharmacy but we -- that occupies only a small part of our time. We're all engaged in operating our own pharmacies and we see, and talk to other pharmacists, other pharmacy owners.

  Q What do they tell you? Do they tell you that Rite Aid is a big competitor, we're concerned about that? Do they tell you things like that?

  A Not in -- not in my personal observation because, as I say, there's only one -- as far as I know there's only one Rite Aid store within any distance, I'd say fifteen or sixteen miles, and none others around.

  Q Let me rephrase the question.

  Instead of just Rite Aid do these individual owners you talk to, do they tell you that the chain store is a threat to them, they're concerned about the chain store and it jeopardizes their business? Do they tell you things like that?

  A Some do. It's not a big part of our life. Campbell dep. at 82, 85-86, 87-89.

  In part, Sussman testified:

  Q Did they say anything beyond the fact that Rite Aid's prices are less than prices of individually owned pharmacies?

  A No.

  Q Did anyone indicate that that might be a threat to their business?

  A No.

  Q Did anyone indicate that it might tend to divert their business?

  A I don't recall that specifically. It --

  Q Generally, Mr. Sussman, I'm not asking you to recall specifically what was said and who said it, just generally.

  A It could possibly dilute their business.

  Q Did anyone say that to you?

  A No.

  Q But you recognize nevertheless that the pricing policy of Rite Aid because it is lower than individually owned pharmacies could tend to dilute the business of individually owned pharmacies, correct?

  A There is a possibility.

  Q You recognize that possibility, do you not, Mr. Sussman?

  A What?

  Q You recognize that possibility, do you not?

  A Yes.

  Q Do you know whether other members of the Board of Pharmacy recognize that possibility?

   A I don't know.

  Q Have you ever shopped at Rite Aid Pharmacy to compare their prices with yours?

  A No.

  Q Has anyone on the Board of Pharmacy shopped at Rite Aid Pharmacies?

  A Not to my knowledge.

  Sussman dep. at 28-29.

  Assessing the record as a whole with a recognition of Rite Aid's burden, we find that among the members of the pharmacy profession, there has developed no such pervasive bias against, or fear of, chain stores of Rite Aid as would taint or prejudice pharmacist members appointed from the overall pharmacy constituency to serve on the Board. Nor does this record establish any such pervasive economic effect exercised by the chains upon the independents, as is claimed by Rite Aid. As a consequence, we can find no more than the existence of normal competition with its normal and traditional fears and concerns among independents, large and small, and chains.

  Thus, we are forced to conclude on the present record that a chain store poses no greater financial threat to an independent pharmacy than the financial threat posed by another competing independent.

  Accordingly, we cannot say that participation on the Board of Pharmacy by an independent member in a case involving Rite Aid or any other pharmacy chain implicates the type of substantial pecuniary interest discussed in Gibson and Wall27 which would violate due process.


  Rite Aid also challenges the constitutionality of the application to it of N.J.S.A. 45:14-3, 12 and 35. *fn28" These statutory provisions give the Board the power to investigate alleged violations of the pharmacy laws and to suspend or revoke licenses and permits as penalties for violations. *fn29" Rite Aid contends that these statutes were unconstitutionally applied to it insofar as they permitted the Board members to prejudge the allegations against Rite Aid. We reject Rite Aid's argument, as we are satisfied that the procedures employed by the Board were not constitutionally defective.

  In Withrow v. Larkin, 421 U.S. 35, 95 S. Ct. 1456, 43 L. Ed. 2d 712 (1975) the Supreme Court held that a state medical examining board which conducted an investigation into alleged improprieties to determine whether there was probable cause to hold a hearing as to whether a physician's license should be revoked could, consistent with due process, conduct the adversary revocation hearing. The Court instructed:


No specific foundation has been presented for suspecting that the Board had been prejudiced by its investigation or would be disabled from hearing and deciding on the basis of the evidence to be presented at the contested hearing. The mere exposure to evidence presented in nonadversary investigative procedures is insufficient in itself to impugn the fairness of the board members at a later adversary hearing. Without a showing to the contrary, state administrators, 'are assumed to be men of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances.'

  421 U.S. at 55, 95 S. Ct. at 1468. Withrow v. Larkin thus stands for the principle that the mere fact that the administrative agency has investigated the matter in question does not render it or its members incompetent, consistent with due process, to adjudicate the case as presented at the evidentiary hearing. Burnley v. Thompson, 524 F.2d 1233, 1241-42 (5th Cir. 1975); Fuentes v. Roher, 519 F.2d 379, 388 (2d Cir. 1975); Stebbins v. Weaver, 396 F. Supp. 104, 113-14 (W.D.Wis.1975). See also Hortonville Joint School District No. 1 v. Hortonville Education Association, supra. We think that Withrow disposes of Rite Aid's argument.

  We recognize from the start that the actual investigation of Rite Aid was not conducted by the Board. *fn30" The record reveals that the Board's Secretary, Paul Pumpian, at the request of the Board referred two complaints concerning Rite Aid of Bergenfield to the Enforcement Bureau of the Division of Consumer Affairs for investigation. The Enforcement Bureau is not a part of the Board but does independent investigative work for the nineteen New Jersey professional boards. The Enforcement Bureau thereafter submitted its report to the Board, which in turn forwarded the report to the Attorney General for the institution of disciplinary proceedings.

  Rather than hearing the matter itself, the Board appointed a retired Superior Court Judge to act as a hearing officer and to make a report with proposed findings. The Board thereafter reviewed Judge Mintz's report and, with the exception of the penalty recommendations, affirmed it. *fn31"

  We conclude that Withrow v. Larkin controls this issue and that N.J.S.A. 45:14-3, 12 and 35 are not unconstitutional "as applied" to Rite Aid.


  The First Count of Rite Aid's Second Amended Complaint, $8 and the Fifth Count may be read as alleging that the Board has manifested actual bias (as distinct from "inferential" bias. See § III-V, supra) against Rite Aid. In support of these allegations, Rite Aid introduced testimony which it claims tends to show the actual bias of the present pharmacist board members.

  While such evidence of individual actual bias is irrelevant to a successful constitutional attack on N.J.S.A. 45:14-1, proof of such actual bias would nonetheless result in a deprivation of Rite Aid's due process rights. Such an attack against the Board's order, however, does not involve the facial or "as applied" constitutionality of any state statute. A three judge district court under 28 U.S.C. § 2281 may not be convened to adjudicate a request for an injunction against an order of a state administrative board if the constitutional challenge is to a wrong done by the board under the statute, rather than a wrong resulting from the requirement of the statute itself. Ex Parte Bransford, 310 U.S. 354, 359, 60 S. Ct. 947, 84 L. Ed. 1249 (1940).

  Having upheld the validity of N.J.S.A. 45:14-1 on its face and "as applied", we decline to rule on those allegations of the First and Fifth Counts which challenge the constitutionality of the Board's order of December 6, 1974 by asserting that the members of the Board were actually biased against Rite Aid. That issue is not appropriate for us to consider. It is more properly presented to a single judge of the district court. Rosado v. Wyman, 397 U.S. 397, 90 S. Ct. 1207, 25 L. Ed. 2d 442 (1970); United Artists Corporation v. Proskin, 363 F. Supp. 406, 409-10 (N.D.N.Y.1973) (3 judge dist. ct.); BBS Productions, Inc. v. Purcell, 360 F. Supp. 801, 806 (D.Ariz.1973) (3 judge dist. ct.). Accordingly, if pressed by Rite Aid, it will be the district court's function to resolve any actual bias issue. We express no opinion, however, as to any factual or legal aspect bearing upon this question.


  The Fourth Count of Rite Aid's Second Amended Complaint alleges that N.J.S.A. 52:14B-10(c) governing the procedure where hearing officers are used, is unconstitutional in that "the statute fails to delineate guidelines or standards the Board must adhere to in making its designation" of a hearing officer. N.J.S.A. 52:14B-10(c) provides:


(c) When a person not empowered to render an administrative adjudication is designated by the head of the agency as the presiding officer, his recommended report and decision containing recommended findings of fact and conclusions of law shall be filed with the agency and delivered or mailed to the parties of record; and an opportunity shall be afforded each party of record to file exceptions, objections and replies thereto, and to present argument to the head of the agency or a majority thereof, either orally or in writing, as the agency may order. The head of the agency shall adopt, reject or modify the recommended report and decision. The recommended report and decision shall be a part of the record in the case.

  As previously stated, the Board had referred the Rite Aid violation to a hearing officer, Judge Mintz, who had been selected from the Attorney General's list of retired Superior Court judges.

  Rite Aid's final argument attacks the appointment of Judge Mintz under N.J.S.A. 52:14B-10(c) in two respects. First, it argues that the statute is an unlawful delegation of legislative authority in that the statute provides no standards to govern the selection of a hearing officer. Second, Rite Aid argues that the statute violates due process because it allows the Board to act in an arbitrary manner in selecting a hearing officer. Neither of these contentions have merit.

  While it is true that the Article 1, § 1 of the United States Constitution precludes Congress from delegating power to administrative agencies without adequate standards for its exercise, see Panama Refining Co. v. Ryan, 293 U.S. 388, 55 S. Ct. 241, 79 L. Ed. 446 (1935), such a limitation does not apply to the delegation of authority by state legislatures. The separation of powers doctrine stemming from Article 1, § 1 is a limitation only on the federal government and is not applicable to the states. *fn32" Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234, 255, 77 S. Ct. 1203, 1 L. Ed. 2d 1311 (1957); Snell v. Wyman, 281 F. Supp. 853, 864 (S.D.N.Y.1968) (3 judge dist. ct.) aff'd mem. 393 U.S. 323, 89 S. Ct. 553, 21 L. Ed. 2d 511 (1969).

  The second attack against N.J.S.A. 52:14B-10(c) relies upon the due process clause. We have difficulty understanding this argument, because as we read that statute it is not concerned with the selection of hearing officers but rather provides for the procedures to be followed after a hearing officer has been selected. The authority for the Board to utilize hearing officers would appear to stem from the Board's general power to employ appropriate procedures to hear matters coming before it. N.J.S.A. 45:14-3; In re Shelton College, 109 N.J. Super. 488, 263 A.2d 810 (App.Div.1970).

  Inasmuch as we do not read this statute as providing for the utilization or selection of hearing officers, we see no reason to extend our discussion to or to adjudicate its constitutionality.


  Having concluded that the record developed before us is insufficient in all respects to warrant our holding the challenged statutes unconstitutional, we will enter judgment for the defendants on Counts Two, Three, Four and so much of Counts One and Five as do not implicate considerations of individual actual bias. As to Counts One and Five, we will remand to the district court for proceedings before a single judge consistent with this opinion. *fn33"

  An appropriate order will be submitted within ten (10) days by defendants. Costs will be taxed in favor of the defendants and against the plaintiffs.

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