UNITED STATES V. CORS, 337 U. S. 325 (1949)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Cors, 337 U.S. 325 (1949)

United States v. Cors

No. 132

Argued February 4, 1949

Decided June 13, 1949

337 U.S. 325


In March, 1942, respondent purchased from the Coast Guard a 47-year-old worn-out tug. He repaired and improved it and, in April, 1942, obtained a permit to operate it as a towing steam vessel in the coastal trade for one year. His total expenditures were $8,574.78, plus his own labor. The War Shipping Administration requisitioned the tug in October, 1942, under § 902 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, as amended, 46 U.S.C. § 1242, and it was used to heat fuel oil and pump it from barges into naval combat vessels. The Court of Claims found that, prior to the taking, its market value had been enhanced $5,000 due (1) to the great increase in shipping and harbor traffic because of the war, and (2) to the Government's need for vessels in the prosecution of the war. It awarded him a judgment based upon a fair market value of $15,500, holding that he was entitled to no less than he could have received on the market from others than the Government.

Held: it erred in doing so. Pp. 336 U. S. 325-336.

1. On the facts of this case, the requirement of § 902(a) of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, as amended, 46 U.S.C. § 1242, that the owner of any vessel requisitioned thereunder shall be paid "just compensation . . . but in no case shall the value of the property taken or used be deemed enhanced by the causes necessitating the taking or use," is coterminous with the just compensation requirement of the Fifth Amendment. Pp. 336 U. S. 331-334.

2. Under the provisions of § 902(a), any enhancement of value must be deducted where it is due(a) to the Government's need of vessels which has necessitated the taking, (b) to the previous taking of vessels of similar type, or (c) to a prospective taking reasonably probable. P. 336 U. S. 334.

3. The enhancement which is excluded is that which arose before, as well as after, the declaration of a national emergency on May 27, 1941. P. 336 U. S. 334.

4. The findings of the Court of Claims are not sufficient to enable this Court to determine whether any part of the $15,500 which it found to be the fair market value at the time of taking includes any deductible enhancement in value, since they do not

Page 337 U. S. 326

show with sufficient particularity what was the effect of the Government's activities in the particular market. Pp. 336 U. S. 334-336.

5. Respondent plainly would be entitled to any increase in value due to his expenditure of money for labor and materials and his performance of part of the labor. P. 336 U. S. 336.

110 Ct.Cl. 66, 75 F.Supp. 235, reversed.

The Court of Claims awarded respondent a judgment for a vessel requisitioned by the War Shipping Administration after the declaration of an emergency by the President. 110 Ct.Cl. 66, 75 F.Supp. 235. This Court granted certiorari. 335 U.S. 810. Reversed, p. 336 U. S. 336.

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