The opinion of the court was delivered by: HIGGINBOTHAM
Plaintiff has filed this action against the defendant pursuant to Section 3 of 8(d) of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act of 1930, as amended (7 U.S.C. § 499c, 499h(d).) In substance it is alleged that although subject to the requirement that it have a Department of Agriculture license pursuant to the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act of 1930, supra, defendant, William B. Mandell Company, has nevertheless been operating this business without a license since March 1964. In fact, on the record, defendant's present counsel admitted Mandell's continuous violation of the Act, in that defendant still daily operates without a license.
Defendant's sole defense was predicated on the ground that this wilful violation should not be subject to an injunction because the District Court has discretion to 'balance the convenience of the parties and the possible injuries to them as they may be effected by the granting or withholding of the injunction.' (Defendant's Memorandum of Law, p. 11.) Defendant cites as controlling authority Hecht Company v. Bowles, 321 U.S. 321, 64 S. Ct. 587, 88 L. Ed. 754 (1944), and other cases pertaining to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act, the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, and the Civil Rights Act. I find none of these cases controlling in the instant situation.
In contrast to defendant's position that the Court has discretion in this situation, the plaintiff strongly urges that as a matter of law the Court can never refuse to issue an injunction under Section 499h(d) once a continuing violation has been found. Plaintiff's argument is based on the statutory language which provides that 'no person shall' operate without a license, and that 'if the court shall find that the defendant is continuing to engage in such business without a valid and effective license, the court shall issue an injunction to restrain such defendant from continuing to engage in or to operate such business without such license.'
In several cases cited by defendant such as Hecht v. Bowles, supra, the defendants had long since ceased their former violation of the statute; but infractions continue here as certain as night follows day, since defendant still has no license. Thus, the 'equity' relied on by defendant is that there is a possibility that the Department of Agriculture's present refusal to issue him a license may be reversed. But Courts cannot create a presumption of error against the administrative process, and defendant's situation is no more unusual than that of any other person when an administrative agency on the base line level and the hearing examiner have both made determinations adverse to his claims.
Since, admittedly, the decisions of administrative agencies are sometimes reversed, there is always the possibility that a court may later decide that a specific decision of an executive department or an administrative agency was in error. Under such circumstances, the individual applicant may have sustained an acute or irrevocable financial hardship. Under a perfect system of justice the administrative agency would always be right and thus would always be affirmed on appeal, but even though there is not always perfect justice at the administrative level, defendant's preference for judicial inaction until the Court of Appeals has decided the administrative matters need not be adopted; for that preference would lead to total chaos in law enforcement in place of the mere possibility of some hardship inherent in the present statutory scheme.
If my ruling sanctions a tough administrative enforcement policy, Congress made that choice inevitable:
'The Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act is admittedly and intentionally a 'tough' law. It was enacted in 1930 for the purpose of providing a measure of control and regulation over a branch of industry which is engaged almost exclusively in interstate commerce, which is highly competitive, and in which the opportunities for sharp practices, irresponsible business conduct and unfair methods are numerous. The law was designed primarily for the protection of the producers of perishable agricultural products -- most of whom must entrust their products to a buyer or commission merchant who may be thousands of miles away, and depend for their payment upon his business acumen and fair dealing -- and for the protection of consumers who frequently have no more than the oral representation of the dealer that the product they buy is of the grade and quality they are paying for.'
Finally, it must be noted that it could take years before a Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court would make the final determination on an administrative denial of a license; if during this interim injunctions were not issued because of the possibility of error at the administrative level, the injunctive provision would become a nullity in terms of meaningful law enforcement. This conclusion seems particularly manifest in the instant case: when the statute was originally passed, the District Court had only the authority to assess fines for the violation of the statute;
and thus there was the inference that Congress had originally thought that fines would be a sufficient deterrent to eliminate the violations of the statute. This Congressional hope was apparently not found within the reality of enforcement, and thus Congress in 1934 added the alternative injunctive remedy and offered a clear guide to its intention:
Defendant further implies that there is an aspect of injustice because defendant is alone being prosecuted by requests for an injunction while the former partners of William B. Mandell have as yet not been prosecuted in the District Court. I do not read the Statute as requiring a District Court Judge to become involved in the delicate administrative decision as to whether the Department of Agriculture should initiate injunctive action against all violators if the Department desires to proceed against only some of them. To inquire into these matters would take the Courts beyond their expertise and would require them to weigh collateral and sometimes elusive factors which may be decisive for an agency which must make prophylactic decisions to deter future violations. Thus, defendant's argument on this phase is somewhat analogous to a court's being asked to quash a criminal indictment because the United States Attorney and the Federal Bureau of Investigation sought indictments against some, but not against all, persons accused of a specific criminal conspiracy.
At the conclusion of the testimony the parties were advised that I would issue an injunction and that they should submit their proposed findings of fact. Defendant has subsequently filed with the Court a motion to stay an injunction. Since is this case a stay would result in the same unreasonable impediment to the effective administration of the statute, for the reasons already noted, defendant's anticipatory motion to stay the injunction will similarly be denied.
In the instant matter, the Government requests a fine of $ 8,350.00 'because, if for nothing else, the arrogance of the defendant' who continued to operate despite 'express notice filed formally that he could not operate,' and 'he blithely went ahead and did so.' (NT., 90-91.) The defendant requests that no fine be entered. Considering the evidence presented to me, if I were not issuing an injunction a very substantial fine would be imposed. Since, however, an injunction will be granted, I will impose a moderate fine of $ 525.00 to be paid by defendant within thirty days, and I request that the Government present an appropriate form for judgment as to the imposition of the fine.
In addition to the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law attached hereto, to the extent that what I have said constitutes Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, this Opinion shall be considered as containing them. All other Requests for Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law not in harmony with those stated in this ...