254 U.S. 505 (1921), 214, J. W. Goldsmith, Jr.-Grant Company v. United States

Docket NºNo. 214
Citation254 U.S. 505, 41 S.Ct. 189, 65 L.Ed. 376
Party NameJ. W. Goldsmith, Jr.-Grant Company v. United States
Case DateJanuary 17, 1921
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 505

254 U.S. 505 (1921)

41 S.Ct. 189, 65 L.Ed. 376

J. W. Goldsmith, Jr.-Grant Company


United States

No. 214

United States Supreme Court

Jan. 17, 1921

Argued December 8, 1920




1. Under § 3450, Rev.Stats., which declares, inter alia, that every carriage, or other conveyance whatsoever, used in the removal or for the deposit and concealment of goods removed, deposited or concealed with intent to defraud the United States of any tax thereon shall be forfeited, an automobile, so used by a person who had it on credit from an owner who retained the title, is subject to libel and forfeiture, although the owner was without notice of the forbidden use. The statute treats the thing as the offender. P. 509.

2. So construed and applied, the statute does not deprive the owner of property in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Id.

3. Section 3450, in this respect, is not modified or affected by §§ 3460 and 3461. P. 512.


The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 508

MCKENNA, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE McKENNA delivered the opinion of the Court.

By an act of Congress passed July 13, 1866 (now § 3450, Revised Statutes, and we shall so refer to it), it was enacted that:

Whenever any goods or commodities for or in respect whereof any tax is or shall be imposed, . . . are removed, or are deposited or concealed in any place, with intent to defraud the United States of such tax, or any part thereof, all such goods or commodities, . . . shall be forfeited, and in every such case all the casks, vessels, cases, or other packages whatsoever, containing, or which shall have contained, such goods or commodities, respectively, and every vessel, boat, cart, carriage, or other conveyance whatsoever, and all horses or other animals, and all things used in the removal or for the deposit or concealment thereof, respectively, shall be forfeited.

In pursuance of this enactment, a libel was filed against a Hudson automobile of the appraised value of $800, and it charged that the automobile before its seizure was used by three persons who were named, in the removal and for the deposit and concealment of 58 gallons of distilled spirits upon which a tax was imposed by the United States, and had not been paid.

Plaintiff in error, herein referred to as the Grant Company, was, on its petition, permitted to intervene and to give bond and replevy the automobile.

The company subsequently answered, alleging the facts hereinafter mentioned, and in addition, pleaded against a condemnation and forfeiture of the car, the Constitution of the United States, especially Article V of Amendments, which prohibits the deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

The case was to a jury upon an agreed statement of facts, which recited that the Grant Company was a

Page 509

seller of automobiles and was the owner in fee simple of the automobile used in this case, and sold it, retaining the title for unpaid purchase money, to J. G. Thompson (he was named in the libel), who was a taxicab operator, and W. M. Lamb, who was in the newspaper business; that the car was used by Thompson in violation of § 3450, Rev.Stats., but that such use was without the knowledge of the company or of any of its officers, nor did it or they have any notice or reason to suspect that it would be illegally used.

The court charged the jury to render a verdict finding the car guilty overruling a motion of the Grant Company to direct a verdict for it on the grounds: (1) that § 3450, Rev.Stats., was in violation of Article V of Amendments of the Constitution of the United States in that it deprived the Grant Company of its property without due process of law; (2) that the section was not to be construed to forfeit the title of a third party entirely innocent of wrongdoing, and that the proper construction of the section was that it contemplated forfeiting only the interest or title of the wrongdoer; (3) that the title reserved by the company for the balance of the purchase money had never been divested, and therefore could not be condemned, and that only the interest of Thompson and Lamb could be condemned.

The jury found the car guilty, and, in pursuance of the verdict, a judgment of condemnation and forfeiture was entered, but, as a bond with security...

To continue reading

Request your trial
14 practice notes
13 books & journal articles

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT