Cherry Cotton Mills v. United States

Decision Date25 March 1946
Docket NumberNo. 187,187
Citation66 S.Ct. 729,327 U.S. 536,90 L.Ed 835,105 Ct.Cl. 824
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Mr.Theodore B. Benson, of Washington, D.C., for petitioner.

Mr. David L. Kreeger, of Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

In 1942 the Government owed the petitioner a $3104.87 refund of processing and floor taxes paid by the petitioner under the Agricultural Adjustment Act. The petitioner owed the Reconstruction Finance Corporation $5963.51, balance on a note for borrowed money. The General Accounting Office directed the Treasury not to pay the tax refund to the petitioner, but to issue a check for the refund payable to the R.F.C. 'to partially liquidate' petitioner's indebtedness to that governmental agency. As authorized by 28 U.S.C. § 250(1), 28 U.S.C.A. § 250(1), the petitioner then brought suit against the Government for the tax refund in the Court of Claims. The Government filed a counterclaim for the $5963.51, asserting the right to do so under 28 U.S.C. § 250(2), 28 U.S.C.A. § 250(2), which gives the Court of Claims jurisdiction to hear and determine 'All set-offs, counterclaims, * * * or other demands whatsoever on the part of the Government of the United States against any claimant against the Government in said court.' The petitioner challenged the jurisdiction of the Court of Claims to hear and determine the counterclaim on these two grounds: (1) the Comptroller exceeded his authority in directing the Treasury to pay the tax refund to the R.F.C. instead of to the petitioner; (2) the R.F.C. should be treated in the same way as a privately owned corporation and when so treated the petitioner's admittedly valid indebtedness to R.F.C. is not a claim 'on the part of the Government' entitling it to set up a counterclaim under 28 U.S.C. § 250(2), 28 U.S.C.A. § 250(2). The Court of Claims rejecting both these contentions, rendered judgment for the United States and against the petitioner for the amount it owed the R.F.C. less the amount of the tax refund. We granted certiorari.

Little need be said as to the contention concerning the alleged lack of authority of the General Accounting Office to direct the Treasury not to pay the petitioner, since we agree with the Court of Claims that its jurisdiction to hear and determine counterclaims is in no way dependent upon the preliminary intergovernmental steps which precede court action. For this reason the petitioner's argument based on our decision in United States ex rel. Skinner & Eddy Corporation v. McCarl, 275 U.S. 1, 48 S.Ct. 12, 72 L.Ed. 131, where we considered the power of the Comptroller General in relation to wholly different legislation, has no bearing on the power of the Court of Claims under 28 U.S.C. § 250(2), 28 U.S.C.A. § 250(2).

Nor do we find any justification for giving to 250(2) the narrow interpretation urged. Its purpose was to permit the government, when sued in the Court of Claims, to have determined in a single suit all questions which involved mutual obligations between the government and a claimant against it. Legislation of this kind has long been favored and encouraged because of a belief that it accomplishes among other things such useful purposes as avoidance of 'circuity of action, inconvenience, expense, consumption of the courts' time, and injustice.' Chicago & N.W. Railway v. Lindell, 281 U.S. 14, 17, 50 S.Ct. 200, 201, 74 L.Ed. 670...

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139 cases
  • In re Medina
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Oregon
    • October 11, 1994 of the executive branch while the debtor is owed an amount from a different agency. See e.g., Cherry Cotton Mills v. United States, 327 U.S. 536, 66 S.Ct. 729, 90 L.Ed. 835 (1946).12 Although acknowledging this, Offord alleges that the IRS does not meet the mutuality requirements in ......
  • Butz Engineering Corporation v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. Claims Court
    • June 19, 1974
    ...actually is, an agency selected by the Government to accomplish purely Governmental purposes. Cherry Cotton Mills, Inc. v. United States, 327 U.S. 536, 539, 66 S.Ct. 729, 730, 90 L.Ed. 835 (1946). In applying this theory as a basis for its jurisdiction, this court has emphasized that the co......
  • Inter-State National Bank of Kansas City v. Luther
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
    • April 29, 1955
    ...and the bankrupt estate based upon mutual debts or credits. See Luther v. United States, supra. Cf. Cherry Cotton Mills v. United States, 327 U.S. 536, 66 S.Ct. 729, 90 L.Ed. 835. Section 68, sub. b, however, prohibits the allowance of a setoff in favor of a debtor who obtains a preference ......
  • Lebron v. National Railroad Passenger Corp.
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    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • February 21, 1992
    ...alter its characteristics so as to make it something other than what it actually is . . . ." Cherry Cotton Mills, Inc. v. United States, 327 U.S. 536, 539, 90 L. Ed. 835, 66 S. Ct. 729 (1946). Amtrak points to two of our opinions that characterize Amtrak as a nongovernmental entity. The fir......
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1 firm's commentaries
  • When Is A Corporate Officer A 'Foreign Official'?
    • United States
    • Mondaq United States
    • July 1, 2014
    ...Association, 531 U.S. 288 (2001); Lebron v. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp., 513 U.S. 374 (1995); Cherry Cotton Mills, Inc. v. United States, 327 U.S. 536 (1946); Reconstruction Finance Corp. v. J.G. Menihan Corp., 312 U.S. 81 (1941); Edison v. Douberly, 604 F.3d 1307 (11th Cir. Esquenazi, No. 1......
2 books & journal articles
    • United States
    • Florida Tax Review Vol. 25 No. 1, September 2021
    • September 22, 2021 authority to set off tax overpayments against debts owed to other federal agencies). (17.)Cherry Cotton Mills, Inc., v. United States, 327 U.S. 536 (1946) (debts owed by taxpayer to Reconstruction Finance Corporation); see also Luther v. United States, 225 F2d 495 (10th Cir. 1955) (debt......
  • Telford: Casting Sunlight on Shadow Governments- Limits to the Delegation of Government Power to Associations of Officials and Agencies
    • United States
    • Seattle University School of Law Seattle University Law Review No. 24-04, June 2001
    • Invalid date
    ...Corp., 513 U.S. 374 (1995). 58. Id. at 394. 59. Telford, No. 96-04116-2 at 21. See also, Cherry Cotton Mills, Inc., v. United States, 327 U.S. 536 (1946). The Court in Cherry Cotton found that the Reconstruction Funding Corporation was an agency selected by the government to accomplish pure......

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