United States v. O'Grady


Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

89 U.S. 641

United States  v.  O'Grady

APPEAL from the Court of Claims; the case being thus:

By the act organizing the Court of Claims, A.D. 1855, power was given to it to hear and determine all claims against the United States founded upon any law of Congress, or upon any regulation of an executive department, or upon any contract, express or implied, with the government of the United States. [1]

Doubts, however, were suggested immediately upon the act going into practical operation and on suits being brought against the United States, whether the act meant to allow the United States to file set-offs in such suits, and to give jurisdiction to the court to hear and determine them in the way usually practiced in suits between private parties. If the act did thus mean, its meaning was not clearly expressed. Congress accordingly, by an act passed March 3d, 1863, [2] enacted that—

'In addition to the jurisdiction now conferred by law, the court shall also have jurisdiction of all set-offs, counterclaims, claims for damages, whether liquidated or unliquidated, or other demands whatsoever, on the part of the government, against any person making claim against the government in said court; and upon the trial it shall hear and determine such claim and demand, both for and against the government and the claimant; and if upon the whole case it finds the claimant is indebted to the government it shall render judgment to that effect, and such judgment shall be final, with the right of appeal, as in other cases,' &c.

A still subsequent act-one passed June 25th, 1868 [3]-enacted:

'That the said Court of Claims, at any time while may suit or claim is pending before or on appeal from said court, or within two years next after the final disposition of any suit or claim, may on motion of the United States grant a new trial in any such suit or claim, and stay the payment of any judgment therein, upon such evidence as shall reasonably satisfy said court that any fraud, wrong, or injustice has been done to the United States.'

NotesEdit

^1  Act of February 24th, 1855 (10 Stat. at Large, 612).

^2  12 Stat. at Large, 765.

^3  15 Id. 75.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).