Heirs of Garland v. Choctaw Nation - 256 U.S. 439 (1921)
U.S. Supreme Court
Heirs of Garland v. Choctaw Nation, 256 U.S. 439 (1921)
Heirs of Garland v. Choctaw Nation
Argued January 12, 1921
Decided June 1, 1921
256 U.S. 439
The Choctaw Nation constituted four persons a delegation to represent it in pressing money claims against the United States, promised them a percentage for their services rendered and to be rendered, and, when an appropriation was secured from Congress as a result of many years of negotiations and proceedings during which the delegates were succeeded by others, passed an act appropriating the agreed percentage out of the fund held by the United States, with a direction that it be paid to the two existing delegates, as successors of the preceding delegates, to enable them "to pay the expenses and discharge the obligation in the prosecution of said claim, and to settle with the respective distributees of said delegation," the act further declaring that payment to the two delegates should be accepted as a complete payment and final discharge of all obligations of the Choctaw Nation to the delegation and as a full and final settlement of the amount due under its contract. Upon these and other subsidiary facts,
(1) That the obligation of the Choctaw Nation was to the delegates individually, and not to the delegation as a body, and that the two existing delegates, in collecting and disbursing the money, were agents of the Nation merely, so that its payment to them did not discharge the Choctaw Nation's obligation to the heirs of a former delegate who had rendered part of the service. P. 256 U. S. 444.
(2) That while, under the act authorizing this suit (May 29, 1908, c. 216, § 5, 35 Stat. 444, 445), any right of such heirs to recover on account of service and expenditures by their ancestor must be determined not upon his contract, but upon the principle of quantum meruit, a petition alleging valuable services should not be rejected upon the technical ground that it asserted and relied upon the contract. P. 256 U. S. 445.
54 Ct.Clms. 55 reversed.
The case is stated in the opinion.