Nortz v. United States
294 U.S. 317 (1935)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Nortz v. United States, 294 U.S. 317 (1935)

Nortz v. United States

No. 531

Argued January 10, 1935

Decided February 18, 1935*

294 U.S. 317

Syllabus

1. A demurrer to a petition in the Court of Claims admits facts well pleaded, but not allegations amounting to conclusions of law. P. 294 U. S. 324.

2. A gold certificate certifying that there have been deposited in the Treasury of the United States a stated number of dollars payable to the bearer on demand, and which is legal tender for public and private debts, is not a warehouse receipt or a contract for a certain amount of gold as a commodity, but is currency. P. 294 U. S. 326.

3. Quaere, whether the issue of a gold certificate creates an express contract upon which the United States may be sued in the Court of Claims under Jud.Code, § 145. P. 294 U. S. 327.

4. The Court of Claims cannot entertain a claim for nominal damages. P. 294 U. S. 327.

5. Congress has complete authority over the currency system, including authority to provide that all gold bullion, gold coin, and gold certificates outstanding shall be taken over by the Government. P. 294 U. S. 328.

6. Assuming that the holder of a gold certificate who, prior to the devaluation of the dollar, was required under the Emergency Banking Act and Treasury orders to deliver the certificate to the Treasury, was entitled, by its terms, to receive the amount of the certificate in gold coin of the then existing standard of weight and fineness, it cannot be said that, in being obliged to accept payment, dollar for dollar, in legal tender currency not redeemable in gold, he suffered any actual loss, since, if the gold coin had in fact been paid him, he could not have held it or dealt in it (having no license), but would have been compelled to surrender it to the Treasury for the same number of currency dollars. P. 294 U. S. 328.

7. In a suit in the Court of Claims for damages claimed to have been caused by refusal of the Government, on January 17, 1933, to pay a gold certificate in gold coin, and substitution of other currency, dollar for dollar, an allegation that gold was of a value of $33.43 per ounce necessarily involves a conclusion of law, since, under applicable legislative requirements, there was not on that

Page 294 U. S. 318

date a free market for gold in the United States, or any market for the gold coin claimed, or any right for person unlicensed to dispose of it abroad. P. 294 U. S. 329.

Question answered " No."

Response to questions propounded by the Court of Claims arising out of a claim based on gold certificates.

Page 294 U. S. 323

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