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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co., 309 U.S. 506 (1940)

United States v. United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co.

No. 569

Argued February 27, 1940

Decided March 25, 1940

309 U.S. 506


In a reorganization proceeding in the District Court for the Western District of Missouri under § 77B of the Bankruptcy Act, the United States filed a claim in behalf of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations. The court allowed it, but allowed the debtor's cross-claim for a larger amount and decreed the balance in favor of the debtor against the Nations to be "collected in the manner provided by law." The validity of the judgment, to the extent that it satisfied the principal claim was, conceded. In another suit in Oklahoma by the United States for the Indian Nations against the surety on a bond given by the debtor, the debtor pleaded the former judgment as res judicata, and asked for a determination of accounts.


1. The Indian Nations and the United States acting for them are exempt from suits and also from cross-suits, except when authorized, and in the courts designated, by Act of Congress. P. 309 U. S. 512.

2. The judgment, insofar as it undertakes to fix a credit against the Indian Nations, is void, and cannot be given the effect of res judicata in other litigation. P. 309 U. S. 512.

3. The immunity from suit of the United States and of Indian Nations in tutelage cannot be waived by official failure to object to the jurisdiction or to appeal from the judgment. In the absence of statutory consent to the suit, the judgment is subject to collateral attack. Chicot County Drainage Dist. v. Baxter State Bank, 308 U. S. 371, distinguished. P. 309 U. S. 513.

4. Where a judgment in the District Court was entered before the effective date of the Rules of Civil Procedure, questions as to parties are governed by the Conformity Act. P. 309 U. S. 516.

Semble that, under the procedure of Oklahoma, a principal in a bond, though he cannot compel his admission as a party defendant in a suit against the surety, becomes such, in effect, if allowed without objection to file his intervening petition.

5. Under the Act of April 26, 1906, which provided that, where suit is brought in any United States court in the Indian Territory by or on behalf of any of the Five Civilized Tribes to recover

Page 309 U. S. 507

money claimed to be due and owing such Tribe, the party defendants shall have the right to set up and have adjudicated claims against the Tribe, and that any balance that may be found due by the Tribe shall be paid by the Treasurer of the United States out of its funds, etc., the question who are "defendants" is a federal question. P. 309 U. S. 516.

106 F.2d 804 reversed.

Certiorari, 308 U.S. 548, to review the affirmance of a judgment of the District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, 24 F.Supp. 961, which, in reliance upon a judgment of the District Court for the Western District of Missouri, rejected a claim made by the United States on behalf of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations and allowed against them a counterclaim of interveners.

Page 309 U. S. 509

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