This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Bradley Boisen, D.C., et al.,
The Board of Chiropractic Examiners,
Filed September 10, 1996
Ramsey County District Court
File No. C69510984
J. Mark Catron, Autumn L. Anderson, Hansen, Dordell, Bradt, Odlaug & Bradt, P.L.L.P., 1200 Piper Jaffray Plaza, 444 Cedar Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2141 (for Respondents)
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, Thomas C. Vasaly, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103 (for Appellant)
Considered and decided by Huspeni, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Holtan, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Board of Chiropractic Examiners oversees the chiropractic field and enforces various statutes and rules pertaining to that field. Respondents are chiropractors who contend that the investigations against them arise out of Minn. Stat. § 148.09 and that the statute is unconstitutional. The trial court first issued temporary restraining orders restraining appellant from continuing investigations of respondents pursuant to Minn. Stat §and later issued a temporary injunction enjoining the operation of Minn. Stat. § 148.09 on the grounds that it was probably unconstitutional. Appellant challenges the temporary restraining order in favor of respondent Gottlieb on procedural grounds and the issuance of the temporary injunction as an abuse of the trial court's discretion. We reverse the trial court's temporary injunction and decline to review the temporary restraining orders.
D E C I S I O N
Whether to grant a temporary injunction is left to the discretion of the trial court, and the decision will not be overturned on review absent a clear abuse of discretion.
Carl C. Bolander & Sons Co. v. City of Minneapolis
, 502 N.W.2d 203, 209 (Minn.1993). Nevertheless, in this case, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion by temporarily enjoining Minn. Stat. § 148.09 (1994) without an adequate showing of the factors set out in
Dahlberg Bros., Inc. v. Ford Motor Co.
, 272 Minn. 264, 137 N.W.2d 314 (1965).
, the supreme court set forth five considerations relevant in determining whether a temporary injunction should be granted:
, 272 Minn. at 274-75, 137 N.W.2d at 321-22 (footnote omitted). The trial court in this case made no analysis of the
factors, instead proceeding to the premature conclusion of the statute's probable unconstitutionality. Having failed to consider the
factors, the court erred by temporarily enjoining the operation of Minn. Stat. § 148.09.
(1) The nature and background of the relationship between the parties preexisting the dispute giving rise to the request for relief.
(2) The harm to be suffered by plaintiff if the temporary restraint is denied as compared to that inflicted on defendant if the injunction issues pending trial.
(3) The likelihood that one party or the other will prevail on the merits when the fact situation is viewed in light of established precedents fixing the limits of equitable relief.
(4) The aspects of the fact situation, if any, which permit or require consideration of public policy expressed in the statutes, State and Federal.
(5) The administrative burdens involved in judicial supervision and enforcement of the temporary decree.
First, unlike the injunction in
, the injunction here alters, rather than maintains, the status quo between the parties. By enjoining Minn. Stat. § 148.09 just before the annual registration of independent examiners, the trial court disrupted the established relationship and procedure between appellant and those licensed chiropractors acting as independent examiners, including respondents.
, 272 Minn. at 265, 137 N.W.2d at 315 (injunction prevented defendant from terminating ongoing relationship with plaintiffs, pending final determination in action).
Moreover, the record as currently developed does not indicate how respondents will be harmed if the operation of Minn. Stat. § 148.09 is not enjoined. Appellant's authority to investigate and reprimand chiropractors pursuant to filed complaints derives entirely from Minn. Stat. § 148.10.
Minn. Stat. § 148.09 merely provides that chiropractors serving as independent examiners must register, pay a yearly fee, maintain a chiropractic teaching position or significant clinical practice, and stay current with the field's educational requirements. Because appellant's authority to investigate chiropractors is not granted by Minn. Stat. § 148.09, respondents have not demonstrated how their claimed injury, being targeted for frequent or particularly harassing investigations, will be prevented by the injunction of that statute.
Respondents assert that Minn. Stat. § 148.09 serves to single them out as independent examiners and that, as a result, they have been subjected to especially frequent or vigorous investigations. Nothing in the record indicates that Minn. Stat. §operates this way.
Further, the record does not establish that respondents are likely to prevail on the merits of their case. On appeal, respondents contend that Minn. Stat. § 148.09 violates equal protection and separation of powers doctrines.
Neither of these arguments is likely to succeed. To prevail on their equal protection claim, respondents must demonstrate that no rational basis underlies Minn. Stat. § 148.09.
See Lienhard v. State
, 431 N.W.2d 861, 866-67 (Minn. 1988);
Lloyd v. City of St. Paul
, 538 N.W.2d 921, 924 (Minn. App. 1995),
(Minn. Dec. 20, 1995). Appellant, however, has offered several seemingly rational goals that are served by Minn. Stat. § 148.09: (1) the goal of ensuring that independent examiners are experienced, because rendering opinions in connection with independent examinations requires skills not typically possessed by new chiropractors, (2)goal of ensuring that independent examiners have current medical information, because rendering independent opinions requires that the examiner be abreast of recent developments in the chiropractic field, and (3) the goal of providing a way to oversee the qualifications of independent examiners, who are not subject to "the normal checks and balances of a patient relationship" or peer review.
The trial court characterized these goals as insufficient to pass the rational basis test. We disagree. The rational basis test is more easily met because of the presumption of constitutionality.
See In re Haggerty
, 448 N.W.2d 363, 364 (Minn. 1989) (Minnesota statutes presumed constitutional and courts must exercise extreme caution in considering whether to declare them unconstitutional);
AFSCME Councils 6, 14, 65 & 96, AFL-CIO v. Sundquist
, 338 N.W.2d, 560, 570 (Minn. 1983) ("[I]t is not the role of the judiciary, in applying the rational basis standard, to question either the factual accuracy or political wisdom of the reasoning and judgments underlying [a] legislative enactment."). Successful equal protection challenges are rare in the area of professional regulations and licensure, where goals similar to those proffered by appellant in this case have been upheld as adequate to support a nonprotected class distinction in a statute.
See Metropolitan Rehabilitation Servs., Inc. v. Westberg,
386 N.W.2d. 698, 701 (Minn. 1986) (state's goals of "reducing costs and removing financial incentives for prescribing unnecessary rehabilitation services" provided rational basis to support bifurcated workers compensation rehabilitation system);
In re Ins. Agents' Licenses of Kane
, 473 N.W.2d 869, 874 (Minn. App. 1991) (rational basis exists for requiring higher burden of proof in attorney disciplinary procedures than in other professional disciplinary procedures),
(Minn. Sept. 25, 1991);
Bergmann v. City of Melrose
, 420 N.W.2d 663 (Minn. App. 1988) (city did not unconstitutionally create two "classes" of license holders or violate equal protection by conditioning liquor license upon establishment of family restaurant while not imposing similar conditions on other liquor license holders). In light of the established law, the trial court's conclusion, at this early stage, that respondents are likely to succeed on the merits of their equal protection claim, is erroneous.
Respondents are also not likely to succeed in challenging the statute on the ground that it violates separation of powers. Respondents argue that Minn. Stat. § 148.09 infringes upon the judiciary's power to permit or approve expert witnesses. To the minor degree that Minn. Stat. § 148.09 imposes special qualification requirements on independent examiners, above and beyond the general requirements for chiropractors, the requirements seem aimed not at undermining the judiciary's independence to approve expert witnesses, but at ensuring that skilled witnesses are available and at maintaining an air of integrity and responsibility about the practice of chiropractic medicine. Such goals do not unconstitutionally infringe upon the judiciary's authority under the rules of procedure to accept expert witnesses. In the last analysis, the court must determine whether a witness is qualified to render opinions in the area of practice.
See In re Welfare of L.J.S.
, 539 N.W.2d 408, 411 (Minn. App. 1995) (describing a "'flexible understanding of separation of powers' that does not require a 'hermetic division among the Branches'") (quoting
Mistretta v. United States
, 488 U.S. 361, 381, 109 S. Ct. 647, 659-60 (1989)),
(Minn. Jan. 25, 1996).
Finally, public policy and administrative considerations likewise fail to support the trial court's order. By enjoining Minn. Stat. § 148.09, the trial court has introduced considerable uncertainty into the yearly registration of independent examiners, most of whom are not parties to this lawsuit. The injunction prematurely disrupts an established administrative process that, as we discussed above, has not even been shown to adversely affect respondents, who allege harm because of appellant's investigations, not because of the registration requirements of Minn. Stat § 148.09.
Because none of the
factors are demonstrated in the record, we conclude that the trial court erred in temporarily enjoining Minn. Stat. § 148.09. We need not review the temporary restraining order involving the investigation of respondent Gottlieb. The motion for temporary restraining orders related to investigations under Minn. Stat. § 148.10. The temporary injunction enjoined the operation of Minn. Stat. § 148.09, and not investigations under Minn. Stat. § The temporary injunction operated as a denial of the request for temporary injunction as to the investigations under Minn. Stat. § 148.10, and the temporary restraining orders were, in effect, dissolved. As we hold today, no injunction against Minn. Stat. § 148.09 is appropriate. Finally, the temporary restraining orders issued in favor of the respondent Boisens are moot, as appellant dismissed its investigations of them and that file is closed.
Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
Notably, this court has held that Minn. Stat §148.10 is not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad.
SeeProetz v. Minnesota Bd. of Chiropractic Examiners
, 382 N.W.2d 527, 533-35 (Minn. App. 1986),
(Minn. May 16, 1986).
Respondents note a third constitutional challenge to Minn. Stat. § 148.09 in their brief, a violation of due process of law. Respondents did not argue, orally or in their brief, this claim. We have, therefore, not addressed it, beyond noting that the due process claim is unlikely to succeed.
We note also that respondent Gottlieb was not joined as a plaintiff in this case until after the trial court temporarily restrained appellant's investigation of him.