TITLE GUARANTY & TRUST CO. V. CRANE CO., 219 U. S. 24 (1910)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Title Guaranty & Trust Co. v. Crane Co., 219 U.S. 24 (1910)

Title Guaranty & Trust Company v. Crane Company

No. 67

Argued December 6, 7, 1910

Decided December 19, 1910

219 U.S. 24


A vessel being constructed under contract for the United States is a public work within the meaning of the Act of August 13, 1894, c. 280, 28 Stat. 278, as amended by the Act of February 24, 1905, c. 778, 33 Stat. 811, and materialmen can maintain an action on the bond given pursuant to such statute by the contractor.

Whether a work is public or not depends on whether it belongs to the representative of the public, and not on whether it is or is not attached to the soil.

Where title to the completed portion of a vessel being constructed for the United States passes to the United States as payments are made, laborers and materialmen cannot assert liens under the state law, but can maintain actions on the contractor's bond given under the Act of 1894 as amended by the Act of 1905. United States v. Ansonia Brass & Copper Co., 218 U. S. 452.

The court will, in the absence of clear and established construction, reach its own conclusion in construing a statute, notwithstanding opinions of the Attorney General looking in the opposite direction.

Held, in this case, that the suit had been properly brought, and that the United States was not necessarily a party, the suit being begun in the name of the United States to the real plaintiff's use.

Although the plaintiff may not have applied for copy of the bond and filed an affidavit that the labor and materials had been supplied, the defect was formal, and not vital, as the intervenors had complied with the statute in that respect.

Objections to allowing claimants the benefit of the bond given by the contractor under the Act of 1894 as amended by the Act of 1905, either because they had a lien or because the service was too remote, if carried to an extreme, would defeat the purpose of the act.

Where a bond is under seal, consideration is presumed; in this case, although the bond was not executed until ten days after execution

Page 219 U. S. 25

of the contract which it was given to secure, the transactions may be regarded as simultaneous.

Assignments of claims of materialmen on a public works held in this case not to have affected the remedy of enforcing the same against the surety on the contractor's bond.

In a suit to enforce claims of materialmen against surety on a contractor's bond, each claimant is entitled to a docket fee of $10.00. Although the claims are consolidated in a single suit, the causes of action are distinct.

163 F.1d 8 affirmed.

The.facts, which involve the construction of the Materialmen's Act of August 13, 1894, as amended by the Act of February 24, 1905, are stated in the opinion.

Page 219 U. S. 31

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