HUBBELL V. UNITED STATES, 171 U. S. 203 (1898)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hubbell v. United States, 171 U.S. 203 (1898)

Hubbell v. United States

No. 198

Argued April 13-14, 1898

Decided May 81, 1898

171 U.S. 203


On the findings and the facts detailed in the statement and in the opinion of this Court, it is held that a former judgment of the Court of Claims in an action by Hubbell against the United States in favor of the defendant was upon the same cause of action which is set up in this suit, and, it not having been reversed or set aside or appealed from, the claim herein set up is res judicata, and the plaintiff is estopped from prosecuting it in this action.

This was an appeal from a judgment of the Court of Claims dismissing the petition of William Wheeler Hubbell, who, as patentee of an "improvement in cartridges," claimed that the United States had manufactured and used cartridges covered by his patent under an implied contract to pay a reasonable royalty therefor.

The petition contained, among others, the following allegations: that

"your petitioner is the first and original inventor of an improvement in cartridges for which letters patent of the United States were granted to him in due form of law and, according to law, dated and issued the 18th day of February, A.D. 1879, vesting in him the exclusive right to make, vend, and use the same for seventeen years from the date thereof."

"Your petitioner has pending a suit for compensation up to March 31, 1883, case No. 13,793 in the Court of Claims, and has never sued any officer nor brought any other suit than that before this present petition."

"Your petitioner prays for an account of the full and entire number of the said cartridges made or used by the defendant, its officers or employees in its service, or for distribution to the states, since the said March 31, 1883, to be separately stated when ordered, and for leave to make the same a part of this petition when precisely ascertained by amendment. "

Page 171 U. S. 204

"Your petitioner further claims a just compensation for the making or use by the defendant, its authorized officers or employees, for its service, of his said patented invention of cartridge, to-wit, he claims the sum of one hundred and ten thousand dollars due to him on this behalf by the United States from the 31st March, 1883, up to May 31, 1888."

"And he prays for judgment for all making or use of his said patented invention from the said 31st March, 1883, to said 31st May, 1888, by the defendant, its authorized officers or employees in its service, or on its behalf, in pursuance of law, in the sum of one hundred and ten thousand dollars, with leave to amend his petition in this behalf when the precise numbers have been duly reported by the proper departments of the United States."

Upon the trial of this case, the Court of Claims made, among others, the following finding:

"The facts in this case are the facts already found in case No. 13,793, between the same parties as to the same subject matter, except as to the time since the beginning of the other action, during which time, to-wit, from the beginning of the other action to the beginning of this action, the government manufactured cartridges of the same form and kind as those described in these findings, known as the 'reloading cartridge,' in which said case No. 13,793 the following proceedings were had, and the following facts were found, which facts are now found herein, and are hereto annexed, as follows, to and including finding VIII."

The IXth finding is as follows:

"The following are, in substance, the proceedings had in case No. 13,793, between the same parties:"

"April 19, 1883. Petition filed."

"May 18, 1883. Amendment to petition filed by allowance of judge at chambers."

"June 4, 1883. Traverse filed."

"July 25, 1883. Amendment to petition filed and allowed."

"October 2, 1884. Amendment to petition filed and allowed."

"December 15, 1884. Amendment to petition allowed."

"January 10, 1885. Claimant's requests for facts and brief filed. "

Page 171 U. S. 205

"April 9, 1885. Additional brief for claimant filed."

"April 13, 1885. Defendants' requests for facts and brief filed."

"April 16, 1885. Argued and submitted."

"April 16, 1885. Claimant's brief of argument filed."

"April 20, 1885. Waiver filed by claimant."

"June 1, 1885. Davis, J., filed the opinion of the court. Petition dismissed. Findings of fact filed."

"August 14, 1885. Motions for new trial, amendment of findings and for reversal of judgment filed by claimant."

"August 21, 1885. Application for appeal filed by claimant."

"December 14, 1885. Motion of claimant for new trial overruled, with leave to submit to the consideration of the court. Findings 2, 3, 4, amended in the form requested by claimant in his motion, subject to objection of the defendants to their allowance."

"October 8, 1886. Claimant's request for findings of fact filed under order of court."

"March 15, 1887. Requests, etc., of October 8, 1886, ordered to law docket."

"April 15, 1889. Motion to amend findings continued."

"November 18, 1889. Continued."

"November 12, 1891. Motion of claimant to amend order of court filed."

"November 16, 1891. Motion of claimant to amend order of court heretofore entered as to the evidence to be used on the trial allowed, subject to objections of defendants on the argument."

Upon these and other facts found, the court dismissed the petition; but, as no opinion was filed, the reasons for this judgment do not appear.

Subsequently additional findings were made; but, as they are not material, they are not here repeated.

From the judgment of the Court of Claims dismissing his petition, petitioner applied for, and was allowed, an appeal to this Court.

Page 171 U. S. 206

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