10 D.C. 226 (D.C.D.C. 1879), 16,122, United States ex rel. McManus v. Moore

Docket NºAT LAW.— 16,122.
Citation10 D.C. 226
Opinion JudgeMr. Justice HUMPHREYS
Party NameTHE UNITED STATES, ON THE RELATION OF THOMAS P. MACMANUS, v. WILLIAM B. MOORE, JOHN A. THOMPSON, BENJAMIN B. GROOM, HARRISON P. THOMPSON, BENJAMIN B. BRISTOW, AND HUGH ANDERSON AND J. C. KENNEDY, ADMINISTRATORS OF THE ESTATE OF THOMAS J. D. FULLER.
AttorneyH. H. Willard, Matt. H. Carpenter, H. S. Foote , and S. E. Jenner , for the relator. P. Phillips and J. Hubley Ashton , for defendants.
CourtSupreme Court of District of Columbia

Page 226

10 D.C. 226 (D.C.D.C. 1879)

THE UNITED STATES, ON THE RELATION OF THOMAS P. MACMANUS,

v.

WILLIAM B. MOORE, JOHN A. THOMPSON, BENJAMIN B. GROOM, HARRISON P. THOMPSON, BENJAMIN B. BRISTOW, AND HUGH ANDERSON AND J. C. KENNEDY, ADMINISTRATORS OF THE ESTATE OF THOMAS J. D. FULLER.

AT LAW.— No. 16,122.

Supreme Court, District of Columbia.

September Term, 1879

I. Where a claim against the United States was referred by the Secretary of War to the Court of Claims, a judgment rendered thereon upon the merits in favor of the claimants, from which no appeal has been taken, and without a motion for a new trial having been made, is final and conclusive as to all questions which were or which might have been properly considered or decided by the court.

II. The relator in a qui-tam action founded upon sections 3490 and 3491, Revised Statutes, is equally concluded by a judgment in the Court of Claims against the United States.

III. An attorney and counsellor at law who is retained to argue a cause pending in the Court of Claims, is not liable to the action contemplated by the sections of the Revised Statutes above referred to.

IV. The Court of Claims is not an officer, " civil or military," within the meaning of section 5438 of the Revised Statutes.

The facts sufficiently appear in the opinions.

H. H. Willard, Matt. H. Carpenter, H. S. Foote , and S. E. Jenner , for the relator.

P. Phillips and J. Hubley Ashton , for defendants.

OPINION

Mr. Justice HUMPHREYS

The relator, Thomas P. MacManus, brings a suit in the name of the United States against William B. Moore, Bristow, and others, for the recovery of an amount of money which, he says, the defendants by combination and conspiracy obtained from the United States Treasury on and upon a false and fraudulent claim.

The concluding paragraph of the declaration is in these words: " Wherefore, in consideration of the facts herein set forth, and under the authority of the act of Congress above set forth, the said Thomas P. MacManus, in the name of the United States, doth now ask judgment against the said defendants for the damages and penalty provided by law, and especially for his half of the said penalty and damages, together with his proper costs of suit."

It is true that what we call qui-tam actions are provided for in England and in most of the States of this Union, and in this case by act of Congress.

But we are relieved from any further inquiry into the merits of this whole matter by the fact that the Court of Claims has given a judgment for the amount which was found due. That court is as competent to take care of frauds or attempted frauds upon its jurisdiction as is the highest court in the British Empire, or any court in the United States.

It passed the claim, and it is the only tribunal known to our laws as a judicial one which can properly render a judgment against the United States that the government is in duty bound to respond to by way of appropriation.

The government of any country cannot be sued except through a tribunal established by itself. The statute has expressly created this Court of Claims to adjudicate the matter of dues to its own citizens, and has given it full power to inquire into alleged impositions, frauds, peculations, or other wrongs involving a proper judgment, and no other court can collaterally inquire into its proceedings. Such a course would be to mix up jurisdictions and make confusion worse confounded, which the true spirit of the law abhors.

We can say no more than we have already uttered, that the court which heard and passed the claim is every way competent to take care of everything involved in this suit. The full declaration exhibits a charge of combination and conspiracy to cheat and defraud the government.

Yet the facts and law are, that the questions now attempted to be inquired into were altogether proper for the tribunal which allowed the claim.

Until that court has had a proper case laid before it in the recognized mode and manner, we cannot interfere. To do so would be absolute assumption, resulting in conflict of jurisdiction.

The judgment is affirmed.

Mr. Justice MACARTHUR delivered an oral opinion, in substance as follows:

I concur in the decision just read, but I desire to add some views of my own arising more particularly out of the state of the pleading.

The action is founded on sections 3490 and 3491, Revised Statutes, which provide for a civil action against all persons making false claims against the United States, and declaring that they shall forfeit and pay to the United States the sum of two thousand dollars, and in addition double the amount of damage which the latter may have sustained.

It is further provided that the suit may be brought and carried on by any person as well for himself as for the United States, but at his sole cost and charge, and section 3493 gives to the person bringing such suit one-half the amount of the forfeiture and damages which may be recovered and collected. The acts for which this action lies are prohibited by section 5438, against presenting false claims for payment or approval to or by any person or officers in the civil, military, or naval service of the United States, and against any combination or conspiracy to defraud the government by obtaining the payment or allowance of any such claim.

The declaration sets forth that the defendants entered into a fraudulent agreement for the purpose of cheating and defrauding the government, and that they did conspire and combine, and did aid and assist in obtaining payment of a fraudulent and fictitious claim for the sum of $108,750, well knowing that the claim was false, fictitious, and fraudulent; that such claim purported to be founded upon a contract for mules, which is set forth, as follows:

" OFFICE ASSISTANT QUARTERMASTER,

" NASHVILLE, TENN., March 9, 1865.

" I hereby obligate myself, as an officer of the government, to receive of T. T. Taylor, agent, one thousand (1,000) good serviceable mules, that will inspect up to the required standard; said mules to be delivered in Nashville, Tenn., on or before the 20th day of April next, at the following prices, to wit: One hundred and sixty dollars ($160), one hundred and sixty-seven...

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1 practice notes
  • 158 F.Supp. 726 (Cust.Ct. 1957), C.D. 1919, Slazengers, Inc v. United States
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Court, Federal Circuit
    • October 8, 1957
    ...Co., C.C.N.Y., 145 F. 1018. See also Meigs v. United States, supra; United States ex rel. MacManus v. Moore, 3 MacArthur 226, 232, 233, 10 D.C. 226, 232, 233. The bar of res judicata may be pleaded, not only as respects matters actually presented to sustain or defeat the right asserted in t......
1 cases
  • 158 F.Supp. 726 (Cust.Ct. 1957), C.D. 1919, Slazengers, Inc v. United States
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Court, Federal Circuit
    • October 8, 1957
    ...Co., C.C.N.Y., 145 F. 1018. See also Meigs v. United States, supra; United States ex rel. MacManus v. Moore, 3 MacArthur 226, 232, 233, 10 D.C. 226, 232, 233. The bar of res judicata may be pleaded, not only as respects matters actually presented to sustain or defeat the right asserted in t......