United States v. Knott,
298 U.S. 544 (1936)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Knott, 298 U.S. 544 (1936)

United States v. Knott

No. 643

Argued March 30, 31, 1936

Decided May 25, 1936

298 U.S. 544


1. A surety company which, by court order upon its own petition, had been placed in the hands of a statutory liquidator in the state of its incorporation, was "insolvent" within the meaning of R.S. § 3466, giving priority to debts due to the United States whenever a person so indebted is insolvent. P. 298 U. S. 547.

2. U.S.Code, Title 6, §§ 1-11, prescribing the conditions under which a surety company may write certain surety bonds in favor of the United States, was not intended to exclude from the operation of R.S. § 3466, liabilities arising upon such bonds. P. 298 U. S. 547.

3. A claim of the United States upon judgments recovered against a surety company on estreated bail bonds held entitled to priority under R.S. § 3466. P. 298 U. S. 548.

4. This Court accepts as conclusive a decision of the state supreme court construing a statute of the State. P. 298 U. S. 548.

5. An inchoate lien is not enough to defeat the priority of the United States under R.S. § 3466. P. 298 U. S. 549.

6. The interest of persons who may become entitled to the proceeds of a deposit made with the State Treasurer pursuant to Compiled General Laws of Florida, §§ 6302, 6303, either as unsatisfied judgment creditors or as Florida creditors at the time when insolvency supervenes, lacks the characteristics of a specific perfected lien which alone would bar the priority of the United States. Pp. 298 U. S. 550-551.

7. The judgment of the state court denying priority prejudiced the rights of the United States. P. 298 U. S. 551.

8. The judgment of the state supreme court here under review, denying the claim of the United States to priority, was a final judgment under the rules governing the jurisdiction of this Court. That the order of the lower court from which appeal was taken to the supreme court of the State may not, under the state practice, have been a final order is here immaterial. P. 551.

9. The Florida courts had jurisdiction to award priority to the claim of the United States out of the proceeds of the deposit, even though the general assets were being liquidated in New Jersey. P. 298 U. S. 552.

120 Fla. 580, 163 So. 64, reversed.

Page 298 U. S. 545

Certiorari, 297 U.S. 700, to review a judgment which denied the United States a claim of priority under R.S. § 3466. The state supreme court had affirmed, with some modification, an order of the trial court. Sub nom. Kelly v. Knott.

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