United States v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co.
338 U.S. 366 (1949)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 338 U.S. 366 (1949)

United States v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co.

Argued October 19-20, 1949

Decided December 12, 1949*

338 U.S. 366

Syllabus

Notwithstanding R.S. § 3477, restricting assignments of claims against the United States, an insurance company may bring an action under the Federal Tort Claims Act in its own name against the United States upon a claim to which it has become subrogated by payment to an insured who would have been able to bring such action. Pp. 338 U. S. 367-383.

(a) R.S. § 3477 does not bar transfers by operation of law. United States v. Gillis,95 U. S. 407; Erwin v. United States,97 U. S. 392; Goodman v. Niblack,102 U. S. 556. Pp. 338 U. S. 370-376.

(b) It was the understanding of Congress when it passed the Tort Claims Act that subrogation claims were not within the bar of R.S. § 3477. Pp. 338 U. S. 376-380.

(c) Under Rule 17(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which were specifically made applicable to Tort Claims litigation, an insurer subrogee is a "real party in interest," and may sue in its own name -- even though it may be subrogated to only part of a claim. Pp. 338 U. S. 380-383.

Judgments affirmed.

In No. 35, a District Court dismissed an action against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act brought by an insurer who had reimbursed an employee of an insured for personal injuries resulting from negligence of a government employee. 76 F.Supp. 333. The Court of Appeals reversed. 170 F.2d 469. This Court granted certiorari. 336 U.S. 960. Affirmed, p. 338 U. S. 383.

Page 338 U. S. 367

In No. 36, the Court of Appeals affirmed a judgment against the United States under the Tort Claims Act in favor of an insurer who had partially reimbursed an insured whose property had been damaged through the negligence of a government employee. This Court granted certiorari. 336 U.S. 960. Affirmed, p. 338 U. S. 383.

In Nos. 37 and 38, a District Court dismissed complaints against the United States under the Tort Claims Act brought by two insurers which had reimbursed an insured for property damages resulting from negligence of a government employee. The Court of Appeals reversed. 171 F.2d 374. This Court granted certiorari. 336 U.S. 960. Affirmed, p. 338 U. S. 383.

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