A-61948, MAY 27, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 855

A-61948: May 27, 1935

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ONLY THE THREE BALES FOR WHICH WAREHOUSE RECEIPTS WERE HELD BY THE MEMPHIS REGIONAL OFFICE WERE SOLD PROMPTLY. THAT IS. YOUR INSTRUCTIONS TO SELL WERE NOT CONVEYED IMMEDIATELY TO THE MISSISSIPPI COTTON COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION. THE SALE OF THAT COTTON WAS NOT EFFECTED UNTIL AUGUST 12. THE PRICE OF COTTON DECLINED AND YOU CLAIM THE NET PROCEEDS REALIZED FROM THE SALE MADE AUGUST 12 WERE $125.68 LESS THAN WOULD HAVE BEEN RECEIVED FROM THE SALE OF THE SAME COTTON ON JULY 28. THE DATE YOUR OTHER COTTON WAS SOLD. IN MAKING THE SALE WAS $60.09 AND THAT YOUR DAMAGE DOES NOT EXCEED THAT AMOUNT AND THAT THE UNPAID BALANCE ON YOUR SEED LOAN IS $38.63. YOUR CLAIM IS FOR DAMAGES RESULTING FROM AN ALLEGED ACT OF OMISSION OR NEGLIGENCE OF GOVERNMENT AGENTS OR EMPLOYEES.

A-61948, MAY 27, 1935, 14 COMP. GEN. 855

OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES - TORTS NEGLIGENCE OR LACHES OF GOVERNMENT OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES RESULTING IN A LOSS TO AN INDIVIDUAL, CONSTITUTES A TORT AND CONGRESS HAS REFRAINED GENERALLY FROM APPROPRIATING MONEY TO PAY, OR VESTING ANY COURT OR AGENCY OF THE GOVERNMENT WITH AUTHORITY TO SETTLE, CLAIMS FOR DAMAGES TO INDIVIDUALS RESULTING FROM THE TORTS OF OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO L. T. MCKENZIE, MAY 27, 1935:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN YOUR CLAIM FOR $125.68, REPRESENTING THE ALLEGED LOSS SUFFERED BECAUSE OF DELAY IN THE SALE OF EIGHT BALES OF COTTON PLEDGED AS SECURITY FOR REPAYMENT OF A CROP LOAN SECURED FROM THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE IN 1931.

THE MATERIAL FACTS WITH REFERENCE TO THE MATTER APPEAR TO BE AS FOLLOWS:

YOU OBTAINED TWO LOANS THROUGH THE MEMPHIS OFFICE, EMERGENCY CROP AND FEED LOAN SECTION, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE--- ONE IN 1931 FOR $275 AND THE OTHER IN 1932 FOR $150. TO SECURE THE REPAYMENT OF THE 1931 LOAN, YOU PLEDGED 8 BALES OF COTTON WHICH HAD BEEN PLACED WITH THE MISSISSIPPI COTTON COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION. AS SECURITY FOR THE 1932 LOAN, YOU PLACED THREE BALES OF COTTON IN THE FEDERAL COMPRESS WAREHOUSE AT HOLLY SPRINGS, MISS., AND SENT THE WAREHOUSE RECEIPTS TO THE MEMPHIS REGIONAL OFFICE. JULY 26, 1933, YOU LEFT WRITTEN INSTRUCTIONS WITH THE MEMPHIS OFFICE FOR IMMEDIATE SALE OF THIS COTTON. WHILE YOUR INSTRUCTIONS TO SELL COVERED ALL THE COTTON PLEDGED, ONLY THE THREE BALES FOR WHICH WAREHOUSE RECEIPTS WERE HELD BY THE MEMPHIS REGIONAL OFFICE WERE SOLD PROMPTLY, THAT IS, ON JULY 28, 1933. THROUGH ERROR OR OVERSIGHT, YOUR INSTRUCTIONS TO SELL WERE NOT CONVEYED IMMEDIATELY TO THE MISSISSIPPI COTTON COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION, WHICH HELD THE EIGHT BALES OF COTTON PLEDGED TO SECURE THE 1931 LOAN, AND THE SALE OF THAT COTTON WAS NOT EFFECTED UNTIL AUGUST 12, 1933. BETWEEN JULY 28 AND AUGUST 12, THE PRICE OF COTTON DECLINED AND YOU CLAIM THE NET PROCEEDS REALIZED FROM THE SALE MADE AUGUST 12 WERE $125.68 LESS THAN WOULD HAVE BEEN RECEIVED FROM THE SALE OF THE SAME COTTON ON JULY 28, 1933, THE DATE YOUR OTHER COTTON WAS SOLD. THE FARM CREDIT ADMINISTRATION HAS DETERMINED THAT THE NET LOSS DUE TO DELAY FROM JULY 28 TO AUGUST 12, IN MAKING THE SALE WAS $60.09 AND THAT YOUR DAMAGE DOES NOT EXCEED THAT AMOUNT AND THAT THE UNPAID BALANCE ON YOUR SEED LOAN IS $38.63.

YOUR CLAIM IS FOR DAMAGES RESULTING FROM AN ALLEGED ACT OF OMISSION OR NEGLIGENCE OF GOVERNMENT AGENTS OR EMPLOYEES. IN THE CASE OF GIBBONS V. UNITED STATES (CT.CLS. 1869) 8 WALL. 269, THE COURT SAID A POLICY IMPOSED BY NECESSITY FORBIDS THAT THE UNITED STATES "SHOULD HOLD THEMSELVES LIABLE FOR UNAUTHORIZED WRONGS INFLICTED BY THEIR OFFICERS ON THE CITIZEN, THOUGH OCCURRING WHILE ENGAGED IN THE DISCHARGE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES.' THE PRINCIPLE DECLARED IN THE GIBBONS CASE HAS BEEN REPEATED AND APPROVED IN NUMEROUS CASES DECIDED BY THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES. SEE BIGBY V. UNITED STATES, 188 U.S. 400; UNITED STATES V. HOLLAND-AMERICAN LIJN, 254 U.S. 148; JOURNAL, ETC., CO. V. UNITED STATES, 254 U.S. 581, AND CASES THEREIN CITED. IN THE CASE OF WM. C. ATWATER AND CO. V. UNITED STATES, 60 CT.CLS. 323, AFTER HOLDING THAT AN ACT OF OMISSION OR NEGLIGENCE BY AGENTS OR EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT WAS A TORT, THE COURT SAID "THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT LIABLE FOR THE TORTS, MISCONDUCT, MISFEASANCES, OR LACHES OF ITS EMPLOYEES.'

IN GRANTING JURISDICTION TO DISTRICT COURTS AND THE COURT OF CLAIMS OF THE UNITED STATES, THE CONGRESS EXPRESSLY RESERVED TO ITSELF THE POWER TO DETERMINE ALL CLAIMS FOR DAMAGES, LIQUIDATED OR UNLIQUIDATED, IN CASES "SOUNDING IN TORT.' JUDICIAL CODE, SECTION 145 (28 U.S.C.A., SECTION 50); (28 U.S.C.A. 41, PARAGRAPH 20). THE DECIDED CASES USUALLY HAVE ARISEN AS QUESTIONS OF JURISDICTION, BUT THEY EXPRESS THE DECLARED POLICY OF CONGRESS BASED UPON SOUND PUBLIC POLICY. TO ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR LOSS OR DAMAGES RESULTING FROM NEGLIGENCE OR LACHES OF ITS EMPLOYEES, WOULD INVOLVE THE GOVERNMENT IN ALL ITS OPERATIONS, IN EMBARRASSMENTS, LOSSES AND DIFFICULTIES, SUBVERSIVE OF THE PUBLIC INTEREST. CAUTIOUSLY AND WISELY THE CONGRESS HAS REFRAINED, GENERALLY, FROM APPROPRIATING MONEY TO PAY, OR VESTING ANY COURT OR AGENCY OF THE GOVERNMENT WITH AUTHORITY TO SETTLE CLAIMS FOR DAMAGES TO INDIVIDUALS RESULTING FROM THE TORTS OF EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES.

THE CLAIM HERE PRESENTED IS BASED UPON A LOSS ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN SUSTAINED AS A RESULT OF NEGLIGENCE OR LACHES OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES. THERE WAS SUCH NEGLIGENCE OR LACHES IT CONSTITUTES A PURE TORT ON THE PART OF SUCH EMPLOYEES FOR WHICH NEITHER RIGHT NOR REMEDY AGAINST THE UNITED STATES HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED OR CREATED BY CONGRESS. NO OTHER BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT IS VESTED WITH AUTHORITY TO GRANT RELIEF IN SUCH CASES.