267 U.S. 458 (1925), 74, Horowitz v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 74
Citation:267 U.S. 458, 45 S.Ct. 344, 69 L.Ed. 736
Party Name:Horowitz v. United States
Case Date:March 09, 1925
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 458

267 U.S. 458 (1925)

45 S.Ct. 344, 69 L.Ed. 736

Horowitz

v.

United States

No. 74

United States Supreme Court

March 9, 1925

Argued October 15, 1924

APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF CLAIMS

Syllabus

1. The United States, when sued as a contractor, cannot be held liable for an obstruction to the performance of the particular contract resulting from its public and general acts as a sovereign. P. 460.

2. So held where the government, having sold silk to the claimant, did not ship it promptly, owing to an embargo placed on freight shipments of silk by the United States Railroad Administration, so that the claimant lost his opportunity to resell at a profit.

58 Ct.Cls. 189 affirmed.

Page 459

Appeal from a judgment of the Court of Claims dismissing the petition upon demurrer.

SANFORD, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE SANFORD delivered the opinion of the Court.

This action was brought by Horowitz under the Tucker Act * to recover damages for the alleged breach of a contract relating to the purchase of silk from the Ordnance Department. The petition was dismissed on demurrer for failure to state a cause of action. 58 Ct.Cls. 189.

The petition alleges in substance these facts: on December 20, 1919, the claimant, a resident of New York, submitted a bid for certain Habutai silk offered for sale by the New York Ordnance Salvage Board. At that time, the "Chief of the Textile Division of New York City" agreed, "on behalf of such Board," that the claimant would be given an opportunity to resell the silk before completing the payment of the purchase price, and that the "departments of the government having jurisdiction in matters of this kind" would ship the silk, which was then in Washington, within a day or two after shipping instructions were given. On December 22, he was notified by the Board that the sale of the silk to him had been "approved," and he thereupon paid part of the purchase price. On January 30, 1920, he sold the silk to a silk company in New York. On February 16, he paid the balance of the purchase price, and wrote the Board to

Page 460

ship the silk at once, by freight, to the silk company. Two days later, he was notified by the Board that it had received the shipping instructions and had ordered the silk to be shipped. Thereafter the price of silk declined greatly in the New York market, until March 4. On that date the

claimant learned . . . that the silk was still in Washington, and had not...

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