SULLIVAN, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:
On July 17, 1985, Charles Pair filed an action in the nature of quo warranto against Robert Burroughs, Edith East, Frank Therrell, Luella Newsome, and Dr. Charles Hollingshead, trustees of Jones County Community Hospital.
Pair claimed that he was a duly appointed trustee of the Hospital, that the present board unlawfully refused to recognize him and his office, and that he had been removed from office under the auspices of a legislative act that was in violation of 90, subsection (o), of Art. IV. of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890.
The Circuit Court, Second Judicial District of
Jones County, Mississippi, found against Pair and entered a summary judgment for the Board of Trustees.
Pair appeals and assigns two errors:
I. That the Trial Court committed reversible error in not holding that the amendment to Section 41-13-29, subsection 3, of the Mississippi Code of 1972, found in Senate Bill 2599, was not unconstitutional for the reason that said Section is in violation of Article 4, Section 90 of the Mississippi Constitution and other Constitutional provisions; and
II. That the Trial Court committed reversible error in not recognizing that Section 10 of Senate Bill 2599 specifically states that Senate Bill No. 2599 shall not affect or alter previous appointments to the office of Trustee of the Community Hospital of Jones County.
WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING SENATE BILL 2599 UNCONSTITUTIONAL SINCE IT VIOLATES ARTICLE 4, SECTION 90, OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONSTITUTION
The office of trustee for community hospitals has existed since Mississippi Code Annotated 71-29-55 (1942). That statute provided that a board of trustees consisting of not less than five nor more than seven members shall be appointed by the county board of supervisors to maintain and operate the community hospital in the county.
Mississippi Code Annotated 41-13-29 (Supp. 1983), provided that there would be eleven members on the board of trustees and set out the following method of appointment: The first four (4) members added under authority of this paragraph shall be appointed by the board of supervisors for terms as follows: one (1) for a term of four (4) years, one (1) for a term of three (3) years, one (1) for a term of two (2) years, and one (1) for a term of one (1) year. Thereafter, as the terms of the board members authorized by this paragraph expire their successors shall be appointed by the board of supervisors for terms of
four (4) years. Three (3) of the members authorized to be appointed under this paragraph shall be appointed from a list of six (6) nominees to be submitted to the board of supervisors by the medical staff of such hospital; and thereafter, as the terms of these three (3) trustees expire, the successors of each of such trustees shall be appointed by the board of supervisors from a list of two (2) nominees to be submitted by the medical staff of such hospital for each vacancy to be filled.
It was under this statute that Pair was appointed a member of the board of trustees of Jones County Community Hospital on February 21, 1984. Pair was appointed to a county-at-large position for a term of four years, which term was to expire on February 21, 1988.
In 1985, the Mississippi Legislature enacted Senate Bill No. 2599 which became Chapter 511, Laws of Mississippi, 1985. Chapter 511 has an effective date of July 1, 1985.
Pursuant to Chapter 511, Mississippi Code Annotated 41-13-29(3)(c) now provides:
(c) Any hospital erected, owned, maintained and operated by any county having two (2) judicial districts, which is traversed by U.S. Interstate Highway 59, which intersects Highway 84 therein, shall be operated by a board of trustees which shall consist of seven (7) members. The first seven (7) members appointed under authority of this paragraph shall be appointed by the board of supervisors for terms as follows:
Each supervisor of Supervisor Districts One and Two shall nominate and the board of supervisors shall appoint one (1) person from each said beat for a one-year term. Each supervisor of Supervisor Districts Three and Four shall nominate and the board of supervisors shall appoint one (1) person from each said beat for a two-year term. The supervisor of Supervisor District Five shall nominate and the board of supervisors shall appoint one (1) person from said beat for a three-year term. The medical
staff at the hospital shall submit a list of four (4) nominees and the supervisors shall appoint two (2) trustees from said list of nominees, one (1) for a three-year term and one (1) for a one-year term. Thereafter, as the terms of the board of trustee members authorized by this paragraph expire, all but the trustee originally appointed from the medical staff nominees for a one-year term shall be appointed by the board of supervisors for terms of three (3) years. The term of the trustee originally appointed from the medical staff nominees by the board of supervisors for a term of one (1) year shall remain a term of one (1) year and shall thereafter be appointed for a term of one (1) year. The two (2) members appointed from medical staff nominees shall be appointed from a list of two (2) nominees for each said position to be submitted by the medical staff of the hospital for each vacancy to be filled.
Thus the eleven-member board was abolished and replaced by a seven-member board. Under the new act, the Jones County Board of Supervisors appointed seven new members to the board of trustees, with an effective date of July 1, 1985.
When the new board met on July 16, 1985, the board refused to recognize Pair as a trustee.
The trial court correctly found that Mississippi Code Annotated 41-13-29 (2) contained a grandfather clause preserving the term of office for trustees serving on July 1, 1982. Pair was not a trustee on that date and, therefore, was not protected from the operation of the new statute. The trial court went on to find that the new statute had many laudable purposes other than to remove Pair as a trustee, although the statute had that effect.
Pair's primary argument is that 41-13-29 (3)(c) by which he was removed from the office of trustee, is local and private legislation affecting only Jones County and, therefore, is in violation of the Constitution.
The case of Lovorn v. Hathorn, 365 So.2d 947 (Miss. 1978), cert. den. 60 L.Ed.2d 1049, 441 U.S. 946, 99 S. Ct. 2167 (1979), occasioned the opportunity for this
Court to set out the definition of local and private legislation and of general law as follows:
Class legislation, also often called local or private legislation, is legislation limited in operation to certain persons or classes of persons, natural or artificial, or to certain districts of the territory of the State, and statutes which make unreasonable or arbitrary classifications or discriminations violate provisions of Constitutions prohibiting special laws granting any special or exclusive privileges, immunities, or franchises, or passed for the benefit of ...