UNITED STATES V. GOLTRA, 312 U. S. 203 (1941)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Goltra, 312 U.S. 203 (1941)

United States v. Goltra

No. 191

Argued January 9, 1941

Decided February 3, 1941*

312 U.S. 203


1. The taking of property by a government officer, claiming to represent the Government but acting without authority and tortiously, confers no right to sue the Government in the Court of Claims for just compensation under the Fifth Amendment. P. 312 U. S. 207.

2. Where an army engineer officer retook possession of boats which were leased to an individual and assumed to cancel the lease, acting in the matter under an order from the Acting Secretary of War, but without authority and tortiously, subsequent possession and use of the boats after the lease had been duly cancelled by the Chief of Engineers in accordance with its terms did not indicate a ratification by the United States of the unlawful taking. P. 312 U. S. 209.

3. An Act of Congress conferring jurisdiction on the Court of Claims to hear and render judgment on a particular claim against the United States notwithstanding lapse of time, bar of statute of limitations, or previous court decisions (Act of April 18, 1934, c. 150, 48 Stat. 1322), held an act of grace, to be strictly construed against the claimant. P. 312 U. S. 210.

4. The Act of April 18, 1934, supra, conferring special jurisdiction on the Court of Claims to adjudge certain claims for "just compensation," for the taking of certain vessels, etc., "whether tortiously or not, . . . by the United States . . . for the use and benefit of the United States," does not allow interest on the recovery. Pp. 312 U. S. 207, 312 U. S. 211.

5. In a suit by a lessee on a claim based upon the retaking af vessels which were leased to him by the Government, the weight, if any, to be given to evidence in proof of damages, consisting of an offer to rent the vessels, made years after the seizure, and the rental value of similar vessels, was for the Court of Claims to determine in the light of the circumstances of the case. P. 312 U. S. 211.

91 Ct.Cls. 42 modified and affirmed.

Cross appeals from a judgment of the Court of Claims.

Page 312 U. S. 204

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