Congress having appropriated in payment of a judgment against
the United States in the Court of Claims the full amount of the
judgment, with a provision in the appropriation law that the sum
thus appropriated shall be in full satisfaction of the judgment,
and the judgment debtor having accepted that sum in payment of the
judgment debt, the debtor is estopped from claiming interest on the
judgment debt under Rev. Stat. § 1090.
On May 2, 1888, the Pacific Railroad, a corporation of the State
of Missouri, filed in the Court of Claims a petition seeking to
recover interest on certain judgments it had previously
Page 158 U. S. 119
obtained against the United States. There was a traverse denying
the allegations of the petition. Evidence was adduced, and the
cause submitted to the court.
There were the following findings of facts and conclusions of
"I. On the 28th of April, 1885, the claimant recovered judgment
against the defendants in the Court of Claims for the sum of
"On the 29th of April, 1885, the claimant presented to the
Secretary of the Treasury a copy of said judgment, certified by the
clerk of the Court of Claims and signed by the Chief Justice. Said
judgment was not paid, except as hereinafter stated."
"II. From said judgment both parties took an appeal to the
Supreme Court, the defendants July 14 and claimant July 15,
"The case was tried and determined by the Supreme Court, and the
following mandate was filed in the Court of Claims February 9,
"United States of America:"
" The President of the United States of America to the Honorable
the Judges of the Court of Claims, greeting:"
" Whereas lately, in the Court of Claims, before you or some of
you, in a cause between the Pacific Railroad, claimant, and the
United States, defendant, No. 11,825, wherein the judgment of the
said Court of Claims, entered in said cause on the 20th day of
April, A.D. 1885, is in the following words: 'The court, on due
consideration of the premises, find for the claimant, and do order,
adjudge, and decree that the said Pacific Railroad do have and
recover of and from the United States the sum of forty-four
thousand eight hundred dollars and seventy-four cents
($44,800.74),' as by the inspection of the transcript of the record
of the said Court of Claims (which was brought into the Supreme
Court of the United States by virtue of an appeal taken by the
United States, and a cross-appeal taken by the Pacific Railroad,
agreeably to the act of Congress in such a case made and provided)
fully and at large appears; "
Page 158 U. S. 120
" And whereas, in the present term of October, in the year of
our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty-six, the same cause
came on to be heard before the said Supreme Court, on the said
transcript of record, on appeal and cross-appeal, and was argued by
" On consideration whereof, it is now here ordered and adjudged
by this Court that the judgment of the said court or claims in this
cause be, and the same is hereby, reversed."
" And it is further ordered that this cause be, and the same is
hereby, remanded to the said Court of Claims, with directions to
enter a judgment for the full amount claimed by the Pacific
Railroad Company for its services."
"III. Thereupon, on February 19, 1887, the Court of Claims
entered judgment anew in favor of the claimant for the sum of
$130,196.98, according to said mandate."
"On the 9th day of February, 1885, the claimant presented to the
Secretary of the Treasury a copy of said judgment for the sum of
$130,196.98, certified by the Clerk of the Court of Claims and
signed by the Chief Justice."
"IV. The principal sum of said last-named judgment has been paid
under the act of 1888, Feb'y 1, c. 4, 25 Stat. 24, but the
defendant refuses to pay any interest on either judgment."
"Conclusion of Law"
"The court, upon the foregoing findings of fact, decide as a
conclusion of law that the claimant is not entitled to recover, and
the petition is dismissed."
MR. JUSTICE SHIRAS, after stating the facts in the foregoing
language, delivered the opinion of the Court.
As taking them out of the general rule excluding creditors of
the government from recovering interest, the claimants
Page 158 U. S. 121
point to section 1090 of the Revised Statutes, which reads as
"In cases where the judgment appealed from is in favor of the
claimant, and the same is affirmed by the Supreme Court, interest
thereon at the rate of five percentum shall be allowed from the
date of its presentation to the Secretary of the Treasury for
payment as aforesaid, but no interest shall be allowed subsequent
to the affirmance unless presented for payment to the Secretary of
the Treasury as aforesaid."
As the claimants themselves appealed from the first judgment of
the Court of Claims, and did not appeal from the second judgment,
it is plain that they are not within the express terms of the
statute they rely on. The first judgment was not affirmed, on the
second judgment was not appealed from.
The contention that inasmuch as the claimants brought the
judgment of the court below into the Supreme Court for correction,
and there prevailed, they are within the fair meaning of the
statute is not without force, but we are relieved from its
consideration by the conduct of the claimants in accepting payment
of their judgment under the Act of February 1, 1888, c. 4, 25 Stat.
27, the terms of which were as follows:
"To pay the judgment of the Court of Claims in favor of the
Pacific Railroad, eighty-five thousand three hundred and ninety-six
dollars and twenty-four cents, being in addition to the sum of
forty-four thousand eight hundred dollars and seventy-four cents,
appropriated by the Act approved August fourth, eighteen hundred
and eighty-six, to pay a judgment in favor of said Pacific
Railroad, which two sums shall be in full satisfaction of the
in favor of the Pacific Railroad reported to Congress
in the House Executive Document number twenty-nine, Fiftieth
Congress, first session."
In Stewart v. Barnes, 153 U. S. 456
this Court held that when a person from whom an internal revenue
tax had been illegally exacted accepted from the government the
precise amount of the sum thus illegally exacted, he thereby gave
up his right to sue for interest as incidental damages, and the
case of Moore v. Fuller,
2 Jones (Law) 205, was cited,
wherein the Supreme Court of North Carolina said:
Page 158 U. S. 122
principle is that when the principal subject of a claim is
extinguished by the act of the plaintiff, or of the parties, all
its incidents go with it. Thus, in an action of ejectment, if the
plaintiff, pending the suit, takes possession of the premises upon
the plea of the defendant or upon its being shown, the plaintiff
will be nonsuited. So, in an action of detinue, if the plaintiff
takes possession of the property claimed, he can recover no
damages, for they are consequential upon the recovery of the thing
sued for. This is an action of debt on a bond to recover the
interest, the principal having been paid by the defendant before
the bringing of the action. By that payment the bond was
discharged, and, by analogy to the cases referred to, the plaintiff
cannot recover the interest, which is but an incident to the
principal, the bond."
To the same effect is the case of Tillotson v. Preston,
3 Johns. 229, which was an action of assumpsit for money had and
received. In addition to the general issue, there was a plea of
payment of the sums mentioned in the declaration. To this plea of
payment the plaintiff demurred specially, alleging for one ground
of demurrer that the plea did not allege that the defendant had
paid to the plaintiff the interest. The court said: "The demurrer
is not well taken. If the plaintiff has accepted the principal, he
cannot afterwards bring an action for the interest."
likewise, the case of De Arnaud v. United
States, 151 U. S. 483
where it was held that the receipt by a claimant against the United
States for a sum less than he had claimed, paid him by the
disbursing agent of a department "in full for the above account,"
is, in the absence of allegation and proof that it was given in
ignorance of its purport, or in circumstances constituting duress,
an acquittance in bar of any further demand, citing
19 How. 126, and United
States v. Childs,
12 Wall. 232.
The judgment of the court below dismissing the plaintiff's