Soriano v. United States, No. 49

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtCLARK
Citation77 S.Ct. 269,1 L.Ed.2d 306,352 U.S. 270
PartiesJose SORIANO, Petitioner, v. The UNITED STATES
Docket NumberNo. 49
Decision Date14 January 1957

352 U.S. 270
77 S.Ct. 269
1 L.Ed.2d 306
Jose SORIANO, Petitioner,

v.

The UNITED STATES.

No. 49.
Argued Dec. 5, 1956.
Decided Jan. 14, 1957.

Messrs. Prew Savoy, Washington, D.C., and George W. Foley, New York City, for petitioner.

Mr. Roger D. Fisher, Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.

This suit was filed in the Court of Claims by petitioner, a resident of the Philippines, to recover just compensation for the requisitioning by Philippine guerrilla forces

Page 271

of certain foodstuffs, supplies, equipment, and merchandise during the Japanese occupation of the Philippine Islands. While decision on the merits would require a determination of the status of Philippine guerrillas as a unit operating in the service of the United States, we do not reach that question. We have determined that the Court of Claims lacks jurisdiction because the claim was not filed within the period provided by the statute, 62 Stat. 976, 28 U.S.C. § 2501, 28 U.S.C.A. § 2501.1

On July 26, 1941, pursuant to the Philippine Independence Act,2 President Roosevelt ordered the Philippine Army into the service of the armed forces of the United States.3 After the fall of Bataan and Corregidor in 1942, elements of this Philippine Army fled to the hills

Page 272

and continued military resistance against the Japanese as guerrilla units. These units, from time to time, requisitioned and commandeered supplies from Philippine civilians. Petitioner contends that these units were part of the United States Army having implied authority to bind the United States to pay for such supplies. He alleges that from September 1942 until the last requisition in January 1945 he delivered supplies to these guerrilla units of the value of $119,765.75. He filed a claim for this amount with the United States Army Claims Service on March 30, 1948. This claim was denied on June 21, 1948.

Thereafter on April 26, 1951, more than six years after the last alleged requisition, this action was filed in the United States Court of Claims. The Government moved to dismiss on several grounds, including (1) that the statutory limitation period had run, and (2) that the units were part of the Philippine forces for which the United States was in no manner responsible. In a per curiam order, 133 Ct.Cl. 971, after issue was drawn on the pleadings, the Court of Claims dismissed the suit on the authority of Logronio v. United States, 1955, 133 F.Supp. 395, 132 Ct.Cl. 596. In effect, this reaffirmed its earlier holdings that members of the guerrilla units of the Philippine Army were not part of the Army of the United States.4 The limitation question was not passed upon.

We granted certiorari, 351 U.S. 917, 76 S.Ct. 710, to determine the validity of the claims of the petitioner and others in like position. After issuance of the writ in this case, the Court of Claims in Compania Maritima v. United States, 1956, 145 F.Supp. 935, 941, 136 Ct.Cl. —-, held that a Philippine resident seeking redress against the United States was under a legal disability while hostilities

Page 273

between Japan and the United States continued. The court further held that the claim of such a person must be filed within three years 'after the disability ceases,' i.e., by September 2, 1948. Apprehensive that this rule might be applied to his case, petitioner requested and we granted permission to argue the limitation question which, as we have said, had been raised but not considered at the time of the dismissal by the Court of Claims.

Petitioner urges that his suit was timely filed because he was first required to present his claim to the Army Claims Service before he could prosecute the action in the Court of Claims. This administrative procedure, he points out, was not exhausted until June 21, 1948, and this suit was filed on April 26, 1951, less than three years thereafter. But, if he should fail with this contention, he argues that the war suspended the running of the statute and it was, therefore, tolled until September 2, 1945, when hostilities ceased with Japan. We cannot agree with either contention.

It has been settled since Kendall v. United States, 1883, 107 U.S. 123, 2 S. Ct. 277, 27 L.Ed. 437, that the Congress in creating the Court of Claims restricted that court's jurisdiction. In Kendall this Court held that the Congress in the Act creating the Court of Claims gave the Government's consent to be sued therein only in certain classes of claims and that no others might be asserted against it, including 'claims which are declared barred if not asserted within the time limited by the statute.' Id., 107 U.S. at page 125, 2 S.Ct. at page 278. As to the latter cases, jurisdiction was given only over those filed 'within six years after such claim first accrues,' unless the claimant was 'under legal disability or beyond the seas at the time the claim accrues,' in which event suit must 'be filed within three years after the disability ceases.' 62 Stat. 976, 28 U.S.C. § 2501, 28 U.S.C.A. § 2501. As was said in Kendall, supra, 'The court cannot superadd to those enumerated * * *,' it having 'no more authority to ingraft (another) dis-

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ability arising upon the statute than a disability from sickness, surprise, or inevitable accident, which might prevent a claimant from suing within the time prescribed.' Id., 107 U.S. at page 125, 2 S.Ct. at page 278.

Petitioner asserts that his action did not accrue until the denial of the claim by the Army Claims Service. At the same time, he admits that the claim filed there was based on the alleged delivery of supplies, etc., on the promise of future payment. The claim, if allowed, was against the Philippine Government, not the United States.5 The claim asserted in this proceeding, on the contrary, is against the United States and based on the alleged taking of property without just compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Petitioner would have us hold that this just compensation case could not be filed until after an administrative denial of his claim filed with the Army Claims Service. But, even if the claims were laid on the same theory and each was directed against the United States, Congress has made no such requirement. It has not so restricted the jurisdiction of

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the Court of Claims.6 Under the circumstances, for us to say that the exhaustion of administrative remedies in such case is a prerequisite to the jurisdiction of the Court of Claims would but 'engraft (another) disability upon the statute' and thus frustrate the purpose of Congress. Furthermore, it would be a limitless extension of the period of limitation that Congress expressly provided for the prosecution of claims against the Government in the Court of Claims. This we cannot do.

We now reach petitioner's second contention. The cause of action as alleged by petitioner was for just compensation for supplies, etc., taken from him by guerrillas during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. He alleges in his complaint that the action, if any he has, accrued at the time of the taking and could only be maintained within six years thereafter but for the existence of the hostilities which he claims tolled the statute. He depends on Hanger v. Abbott, 1868, 6 Wall, 532, 18 L.Ed. 939, to support this position. Such...

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521 practice notes
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
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    ...Cir. 1945) cert. den. 327 U.S. 788, 66 S.Ct. 808, 90 L.Ed. 1015; Adams v. Albany, 80 F.Supp. 876 (D.C.Cal.1948); Soriano v. United States, 352 U.S. 270, 77 S.Ct. 269, 1 L.Ed.2d 306 8 327 U.S. 392, 396, 66 S.Ct. 582, 90 L. Ed. 743. 9 Felix v. Patrick, 145 U.S. 317, 331, 12 S.Ct. 862, 36 L.Ed......
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    • 22 Marzo 1993
    ...not to be implied.'" Lehman v. Nakshian, 453 U.S. 156, 161, 101 S.Ct. 2698, 2702, 69 L.Ed.2d 548 (1981) (quoting Soriano v. United States, 352 U.S. 270, 276, 77 S.Ct. 269, 273, 1 L.Ed.2d 306 (1957), but must be "`unequivocally expressed.'" United States v. Mitchell, 445 U.S. 535, 538, 100 S......
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    ...construction. Unexcelled Chemical Corp. v. United States, 345 U.S. 59, 64, 73 S.Ct. 580, 97 L.Ed. 821 (1953); Soriano v. United States, 352 U.S. 270, 77 S.Ct. 269, 1 L.Ed.2d 306 (1957); United States v. Borin, 209 F.2d 145, 147 (5th Cir.1954), cert. den. 348 U.S. 821, 75 S.Ct. 33, 99 L.Ed. ......
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    • 6 Septiembre 2005
    ...63 L.Ed.2d 607 (1980) (emphasizing that the waiver of sovereign immunity must be "unequivocally expressed"); Soriano v. United States, 352 U.S. 270, 276, 77 S.Ct. 269, 1 L.Ed.2d 306 (1957) (noting that the Supreme Court "has long decided that limitations and conditions upon which the Govern......
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