United States v. Moore
423 U.S. 77 (1975)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Moore, 423 U.S. 77 (1975)

United States v. Moore

No. 74-687

Argued October 15, 1975

Decided December 2, 1975

423 U.S. 77

Syllabus

Obligations of an insolvent debtor arising from default in the performance of government contracts, occurring before an assignment for the benefit of creditors held entitled to the statutory priority accorded "debts due to the United States" under 31 U.S.C. § 191, even though the obligations were unliquidated in amount at the time of the assignment. Pp. 423 U. S. 80-86.

(a) Nothing on the face of § 191, and no potential difficulty in administering it, require any distinction between liquidated and unliquidated debts for purpose of the statutory priority; the statute's language looks to the time of payment, rather than the time when the assignment is made. P. 423 U. S. 83.

(b) To construe the words "debts due to the United States" as including unliquidated claims and as not being restricted to those obligations that would on the date of the assignment have given rise to a common law action for debt, comports with the treatment of unliquidated claims in the Bankruptcy Acts, including the current Act. Pp. 423 U. S. 83-85.

(c) The obligations in question were fixed and independent of "events after insolvency," and only the precise amount of those obligations awaited future events. Pp. 423 U. S. 85-86.

497 F.2d 976, reversed and remanded.

BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Page 423 U. S. 78

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