This is an appeal from an order of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, denying the State's motions to discharge and dissolve a temporary injunction, mandatory in nature, which was granted peremptorily without a hearing.
The bill shows that Norman Tobacco Company is primarily a wholesaler and distributor of tobacco and tobacco products; that the State, through the Department of Revenue, made a final assessment of tobacco tax against it in 1961, totaling $6,014.72, and that being dissatisfied with the assessment,
The bill prayed that Harry H. Haden, as Commissioner of Revenue, H. S. Phifer, Chief of the Tobacco Tax Division, and Dewey Pinson, an agent of the Department of Revenue, be made parties; that the court find that the assessment of June 5, 1961, was illegal and set it aside, and that a temporary injunction issue restraining and enjoining the three named parties from refusing to sell tobacco tax stamps to Norman Tobacco Company, and enjoining them from further proceedings until this dispute could be settled.
The court issued the injunction upon the approval of a $1,000 injunction bond. The State filed a plea in abatement which was overruled, and then filed a motion to discharge and a motion to dissolve, and both of these motions were overruled. The State appealed.
The bill of complaint was framed in two aspects. One aspect was in relation to Tit. 51, § 140, Code 1940, which provides for appeals from assessments by the Revenue Department, and the second aspect sought an injunction against the above named officers and agents of the Department. (Tit. 51, § 732, provides that appeals from tobacco tax assessments shall be taken in accordance with Tit. 51, § 140).
The State contends that the court had no jurisdiction to entertain this bill for injunction because it is a suit against the State as prohibited by § 14 of the Alabama Constitution and that by reason of that fact, the trial court had no jurisdiction and the bill is wholly without equity. There is no dispute but that the jurisdiction vested in the trial court upon an appeal by the taxpayer from a final assessment and penalty made by the State Department of Revenue through the authority of Tit. 51, § 140, Code 1940. We have held that the statute is constitutional and this procedure is not a suit against the State. State Tax Commission v. Stanley, 234 Ala. 66, 173 So. 609.
We have also held that the enjoining of arbitrary action or abuse of discretion by public officials, or preventing irreparable damage, does not violate Art. 1, § 14, of the Constitution of Alabama.
We upheld the issuance of an injunction in an appeal from an assessment in the case of State v. Mobile & Ohio R. R. Co., 228 Ala. 533, 154 So. 91. There, the Mobile & Ohio R. R. Co., through its receivers, filed a statutory appeal from an assessment by the State Tax Commission under the General Acts of Alabama 1927, Section 73. In connection with its appeal, the railroad also requested a temporary injunction. From the decree of the trial court granting the injunction, the State appealed. This court said:
In State v. Louis Pizitz Dry Goods Co., 243 Ala. 629, 11 So.2d 342, we again approved the Mobile & Ohio case and held that a bill for declaratory judgment could be filed in connection with an appeal from an assessment.
In determining whether action against a state officer is a suit against the State in violation of constitutional prohibition, the court considers the nature of the suit or relief demanded. Horn v. Dunn Bros., Inc., 262 Ala. 404, 79 So.2d 11; Glass v. Prudential Ins. Co. of America, 246 Ala. 579, 22 So.2d 13.
Here, we have allegations that show how appellee will suffer irreparable injury if it is not permitted to purchase tobacco stamps until its case is finally determined. It has no adequate remedy at law, the bill contains equity, and the court does have jurisdiction.
Appellant argues that there is a misjoinder of parties because the officials and agents of the Revenue Department are made parties. It is true that we have held the State Department of Revenue and the Commissioner of Revenue are neither proper nor necessary parties in an appeal from an assessment under Tit. 51, § 140, Code 1940. If this were merely an appeal under the statute, the rule would apply. State v. Aluminum Ore Co., 263 Ala. 422, 82 So.2d 800; Alabama Textile Products Corp. v. State, 263 Ala. 533, 83 So.2d 42; Birmingham Vending Co. v. State, 251 Ala. 584, 38 So.2d 876. But, as already shown, there was an injunctive aspect to the bill which was directed at officials named in the pleading. We note that the State Tax Commission and the State Tax Commissioner were made parties to the bill and were enjoined in the appeal from an assessment in State v. Mobile & Ohio R. R. Co., 228 Ala. 533, 154 So. 91.
In passing on the application for the issuance of an injunction pendente lite, the trial court is invested with a wide judicial discretion and has the right to consider and weigh the relative degree of injury or benefit to the respective parties, and where such discretion is not abused, the order of the circuit court will not be disturbed. Madison Limestone Co. v. McDonald, 264 Ala. 295, 87 So.2d 539; Slay v. Hess, 252 Ala. 455, 41 So.2d 582.
Here, the refusal to sell tobacco stamps to appellee pendente lite will inflict, under the allegations of the bill, irreparable injury upon it, while the State will continue to receive revenue from such sales.
LIVINGSTON, C. J., and SIMPSON and HARWOOD, JJ., concur.