United States v. The "Thekla,"
266 U.S. 328 (1924)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. The "Thekla,", 266 U.S. 328 (1924)

United States v. The "Thekla"

No. 258

Argued November 2, 1924

Decided December 1, 1924

266 U.S. 328

Syllabus

1. When the United States comes into court to assert a claim, it so far takes the position of a private suitor that justice may be done with regard to the subject matter. P 266 U. S. 339.

2. In a collision case wherein libel and cross-libel of the respective owners had been consolidated and the first libelant had been ordered under old Admiralty Rule 53 to give security for the other's damages, the United States intervened, standing on the first libel, and filed a claim alleging its possession and ownership of that libelant's vessel at the time of collision, with a stipulation of the Emergency Fleet Corporation for security in a specified sum conditioned that the claimant (United States) and the Corporation should abide all orders of the court and pay the amount awarded by the final decree. The district court, finding that the United

Page 266 U. S. 329

state was owner, pro hac vice, of the vessel claimed, using it for war service, and that that vessel alone was at fault, decreed damages against the United States and the Fleet Corporation, as stipulator, with interest and costs.

Held:

(a) That the district court was empowered to enter the decree, p. 266 U. S. 339, since

(b) The subject matter was the collision, rather than the vessel first libeled, p. 266 U. S. 340;

(c) The reasons against creating government liability for tort were inapplicable, id.;

(d) The Government's joinder in the suit carried with it acceptance of whatever liability the courts might decide to be reasonably incident to that act, and, for such acceptance, no statute was necessary, p. 266 U. S. 341;

(e) The stipulation for security, ordered before the United States made itself a party, was valid, id.;

(f) Interest and costs can be recovered from the Fleet Corporation and the United States. Id.

Questions certified by the circuit court of appeals on an appeal from a decree of the district court against the United States, as claimant, and the Fleet Corporation, as stipulator, for damages resulting from a collision, with interest and costs. The questions propounded were: (1) was the district court empowered by law to render the decree entered? and, if that were answered in the negative, (2) must the Fleet Corporation, as stipulator, respond for the damages proven? The certificate is reported in full in 295 F. 1020.

Page 266 U. S. 338

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