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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. N.Y. Rayon Importing Co., Inc. , 329 U.S. 654 (1947)

United States v. N.Y. Rayon Importing Co., Inc. (#2)

No. 94

Argued January 8, 1947

Decided February 3, 1947*

329 U.S. 654


1. The Court of Claims is precluded by § 177(a) of the Judicial Code from awarding interest on claims for refunds of customs duties, even though the claims were based upon preexisting judgments of the Customs Court, and even assuming that the General Accounting Office had unreasonably delayed the determination of ownership of the funds. P. 329 U. S. 658.

2. Apart from constitutional requirements, interest can be recovered against the United States only if express consent to such a recovery has been given by Congress. P. 329 U. S. 658.

3. The consent of Congress to recovery of interest against the United States may be given, as indicated by § 177(a), only by (1) a specific provision for the payment of interest in a statute, or (2) an express stipulation for the payment of interest in a contract duly entered into by agents of the United States. P. 329 U. S. 659.

4. Since there is no contractual stipulation involved in this case, and since the appropriation statutes which cover the refunds here in issue contain no provision for the recovery of interest, the traditional immunity of the United States, as codified in § 177(a), applies. P. 329 U. S. 659.

5. That an award of interest on a claim against the United States would be just or equitable does not empower the Court of Claims to make it. Pp. 329 U. S. 659-660.

6. Assuming that officials of the General Accounting Office unreasonably delayed determination of the ownership of the funds, this could not operate as a consent on the part of the United States to imposition of interest. P. 329 U. S. 660.

7. The immunity established by § 177(a) embraces claims arising out of preexisting judgments. P. 329 U. S. 661.

8. The Act of March 3, 1875, as amended by the Act of March 3, 1933 (31 U.S.C. § 227), relates solely to cases where the Government asserts a set-off against a judgment creditor, and is inapplicable in the circumstances here. P. 329 U. S. 662.

Page 329 U. S. 655

9. Courts lack the power to award interest against the United States on the basis of what they may consider to be sound policy. P. 329 U. S. 663.

105 Ct.Cl. 606, 64 F.Supp. 684, reversed in part.

From a judgment of the Court of Claims which included an award of interest, 105 Ct.Cl. 606, 64 F.Supp. 684, the United States and the claimants sought review on cross-petitions for certiorari, which this Court granted. 329 U.S. 699. In No. 94, the judgment is reversed so far as it includes interest. In No. 96, the writ of certiorari is dismissed. P. 329 U. S. 663.

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