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AGO 1953 No. 89 - July 14, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

CLAIM AGAINST STATE ‑- MERGER OF CAUSE OF ACTION AND JUDGMENT ‑- APPROPRIATIONS ‑- STATE AUDITOR

Where a claim against the state for old age assistance accrued during the previous biennium and a judgment for the amount of such claim was entered in the current biennium, such claim was merged with the judgment and effective as of the date of entry of the judgment.  The state auditor should issue a warrant for the amount of the judgment and costs.

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                                                                    July 14, 1953

Honorable Cliff Yelle
State Auditor
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 89

Attention:  !ttMr. F. D. Keister
            Assistant State Auditor

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of July 3, 1953, in which you enclosed a photostatic copy of a judgment entered June 15, 1953, by the superior court of Skagit County.  The court adjudged that the director of the department of social security (now public assistance) was required to pay Mabel Shelley, executrix of the Estate of Reuben Shelley, the sum of $1,167.83 and costs of the action.  The claim which gave rise to the cause of action was a disputed claim for old age assistance which the superior court for Skagit County resolved in favor of the claimant.  The period during which the claim arose was in the last fiscal biennium.  The judgment against the director was entered during the current biennium.

            Directing our attention to the Eleventh Amendment to the State Constitution, you have inquired

            "Is there an 'appropriation by law' made by the legislature for the 1953-55 biennium against which the State  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] Auditor can lawfully draw a warrant, or warrants, in payment of either or both the principal sum of $1,167.83 and the costs of the action?"

            It is our opinion that both the face amount of the judgment and the costs of the action are payable out of the appropriation for Senior Citizens grants, chapter 3, Extraordinary Session of 1953.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Article VIII, section 4, as amended by the Eleventh Amendment, Washington State Constitution provides in part as follows:

            "No moneys shall ever be paid out of the treasury of this state, or any of its funds, or any of the funds under its management, except in pursuance of an appropriation by law; nor unless such payment be made within one calendar month after the end of the next ensuing fiscal biennium, * * *"

            The crucial inquiry, having in mind the constitutional prohibition, is to fix the time at which the obligation accrued with respect to the current biennium.  The claim on which the action was based dated back as far as August 1, 1951.  Nevertheless, we conclude that the full amount of the judgment, including costs, is an obligation which accrued at the time of the entry of the judgment.  The rule is stated in 30 Am.Jur. 903, Judgments, § 150, as follows:

            "One effect of a judgment is to merge therein the cause of action upon which the action is broughtfrom the date of the judgment"  (Emphasis supplied)

            Our Supreme Court stated inFisher v. Seattle Trust Company, 109 Wash. 257, at page 260

            "* * * when the judgment of the superior court was entered, all previous rights of the parties became merged in the judgment, * * *"

            In 50 C.J.S. 20, Judgments, § 599, the rule is stated in this manner:

            "A claim or demand which is put in suit and passes to final judgment is merged or swallowed up in the judgment; * * *"

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Thus we conclude that the warrant should issue since the obligation accrued during the current biennium and is the type of claim for which the legislature appropriated funds for old age assistance.

            The photostatic copy of the judgment in the case with which you are now concerned is enclosed.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

ANDY ENGEBRETSEN
Assistant Attorney General

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