American Propeller Mfg Co v. United States, No. 605

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSUTHERLAND
PartiesAMERICAN PROPELLER & MFG. CO. v. UNITED STATES
Docket NumberNo. 605
Decision Date29 March 1937

300 U.S. 475
57 S.Ct. 521
81 L.Ed. 751
AMERICAN PROPELLER & MFG. CO.

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 605.
Argued March 12, 1937.
Decided March 29, 1937.

Page 476

Messrs. Edgar Allan Poe and J. Kemp Batlett, both of Baltimore, Md., for petitioner.

Mr. J. Louis Monarch, of Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a proceeding brought in the Court of Claims by petitioner to recover a balance of $144,238.03 alleged to be due from the government under certain designated contracts. The government filed a general traverse, an

Page 477

a counterclaim for a deficiency income and excess profits tax assessment in the sum of $191,403.77. The taxes were for the year 1918, and were assessed on the 14th day of June, 1924. The court below found that the government was indebted to petitioner upon the contracts in the sum of $119,413.04. Upon the counterclaim the court found that the tax liability of petitioner was $82,701.29. Upon this latter sum, it allowed interest, at the rate of 6 per cent. per annum from the date of assessment, in the sum of $58,607.64, bringing the total allowance upon the counterclaim to the sum of $141,308.93. Judgment was given against petitioner for the difference between that sum and the sum due under the contracts; namely, $21,895.89. The opinion of the court will be found in 14 F.Supp. 168; and a supplemental opinion in the form of a memorandum was filed on October 5, 1936. 17 F.Supp. 215, 216. We granted certiorari, limited to the question of the allowance of interest to the government upon its counterclaim. 300 U.S. 648, 57 S.Ct. 491, 81 L.Ed. —-.

In the argument here, both parties proceed upon the theory that interest was allowed under the Revenue Act of 1918, c. 18, 40 Stat. 1057, 1082, 1083, § 250(e).1 The government contended below that under that section it was entitled to interest at the rate of 1 per centum per month instead of 6 per centum per annum. It abandons that

Page 478

contention here, but insists that it is entitled to at least the interest allowed by the court below.

It will be seen that under the findings, the government was indebted in 1924 to petitioner in the sum of $119,413.04, against which there was at the same time a just counterclaim of $82,701.29; so that, if the account had been adjusted at that time instead of 12 years later, the government would have been obliged to pay petitioner the difference between these two sums, or $36,711.75. The inequity of allowing the government interest for 12 years under these circumstances, so as to bring the petitioner in debt to the government in the sum of over $21,000, is so gross as to be shocking.

We have said (United States v. The Thekla, 266 U.S. 328, 339 340, 341, 45 S.Ct. 112, 113, 69 L.Ed. 313): 'When the United States comes into Court to assert a claim it so far takes the position of a private suitor as to agree by implication that justice may be done with regard to the subject matter. The absence of legal liability in a case where but for its sovereignty it would be liable does not destroy the justice of the claim against it. * * * The reasons are strong for not obstructing the application of natural justice against the Government by technical formulas when justice...

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39 practice notes
  • Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co of America v. United States United States v. Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co of America 8212 12, 1943, Nos. 369
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 21, 1943
    ...is immaterial. Act of May 22, 1939, 53 Stat. 752, 28 U.S.C. § 288(b), 28 U.S.C.A. § 288(b); cf. American Propeller Co. v. United States, 300 U.S. 475, 479, 480, 57 S.Ct. 521, 523, 81 L.Ed. 751; Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. v. Huffman, 319 U.S. 293, 63 S.Ct. 1070, 87 L.Ed. —-. The purpose o......
  • United States v. Standard Oil Co. of California, No. E-5.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • December 4, 1937
    ...Debell, C.C.A.1915, 227 F. 775. As said by the Supreme Court in a very recent case, American Propellor & Mfg. Co. v. United States, 1937, 300 U.S. 475, 478, 57 S.Ct. 521, 523, 81 L.Ed. 751: "We have said (United States v. The Thekla, 266 U.S. 328, 339, 340, 341, 45 S.Ct. 112, 113, 69 L.Ed. ......
  • United States v. Finn, Civ. A. No. 14309.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • November 5, 1954
    ...327, the Thekla rule is a fortiori applicable at bar. See: 28 U.S.C. §§ 2674, 2680; American Propeller & Mfg. Co. v. United States, 1937, 300 U.S. 475, 478, 57 S.Ct. 521, 81 L.Ed. 751; Yankwich, Problems Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 1949, 9 F.R.D. 143; 3 Moore, Federal Practice 66, Pa......
  • Pan American Fire & Casualty Company v. Revere, Civ. A. No. 9952.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • September 30, 1960
    ...is authorized even without the express provision of the interpleader statute. See Dugas v. American Surety Co., supra, 300 U.S. 428-429, 57 S.Ct. 521; Ross v. International Life Ins. Co., 6 Cir., 24 F.2d 345, 346; National Fire Ins. Co. v. Sanders, supra, 215. The only contrary ruling is Lo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
39 cases
  • Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co of America v. United States United States v. Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co of America 8212 12, 1943, Nos. 369
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 21, 1943
    ...is immaterial. Act of May 22, 1939, 53 Stat. 752, 28 U.S.C. § 288(b), 28 U.S.C.A. § 288(b); cf. American Propeller Co. v. United States, 300 U.S. 475, 479, 480, 57 S.Ct. 521, 523, 81 L.Ed. 751; Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. v. Huffman, 319 U.S. 293, 63 S.Ct. 1070, 87 L.Ed. —-. The purpose o......
  • United States v. Standard Oil Co. of California, No. E-5.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • December 4, 1937
    ...Debell, C.C.A.1915, 227 F. 775. As said by the Supreme Court in a very recent case, American Propellor & Mfg. Co. v. United States, 1937, 300 U.S. 475, 478, 57 S.Ct. 521, 523, 81 L.Ed. 751: "We have said (United States v. The Thekla, 266 U.S. 328, 339, 340, 341, 45 S.Ct. 112, 113, 69 L.Ed. ......
  • United States v. Finn, Civ. A. No. 14309.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • November 5, 1954
    ...327, the Thekla rule is a fortiori applicable at bar. See: 28 U.S.C. §§ 2674, 2680; American Propeller & Mfg. Co. v. United States, 1937, 300 U.S. 475, 478, 57 S.Ct. 521, 81 L.Ed. 751; Yankwich, Problems Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 1949, 9 F.R.D. 143; 3 Moore, Federal Practice 66, Pa......
  • Pan American Fire & Casualty Company v. Revere, Civ. A. No. 9952.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • September 30, 1960
    ...is authorized even without the express provision of the interpleader statute. See Dugas v. American Surety Co., supra, 300 U.S. 428-429, 57 S.Ct. 521; Ross v. International Life Ins. Co., 6 Cir., 24 F.2d 345, 346; National Fire Ins. Co. v. Sanders, supra, 215. The only contrary ruling is Lo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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