United States v. Powell,
330 U.S. 238 (1947)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Powell, 330 U.S. 238 (1947)

United States v. Powell

No. 56

Argued January 13, 1947

Decided March 3, 1947*

330 U.S. 238


1. Section 321(a) of the Transportation Act of 1940 provides that commercial rates shall be applicable to transportation of property for the United States, excepting "military or naval property of the United States moving for military or naval and not for civil use."

Held: Phosphate rock and superphosphate which were property of the United States, and which were transported in 1941 on consignment to the British Ministry of War Transport under the Lend-Lease Act, but which were for use in Britain as farm fertilizer, were not within the exception, and were not entitled to land-grant, rather than commercial, rates. Pp. 330 U. S. 239-242, 330 U. S. 247.

2. The fact that the goods transported were "defense articles" under the Lend-Lease Act did not of itself entitle them to land-grant rates under § 321(a). Pp. 330 U. S. 242-245.

3. Although the exception in § 321(a) is to be construed strictly in favor of the United States, the standards of the Lend-Lease Act are not to be read into the Transportation Act. Pp. 330 U. S. 243-244.

4. The property here involved was being transported for a "civil" use within the meaning of § 321(a), since it was destined for use by civilian agencies in agricultural projects, and not for use by the armed services to satisfy any of their needs or wants or by any civilian agency which acted as their adjunct or otherwise serviced them in any of their activities. Pp. 330 U. S. 245-247.

152 F.2d 228, 230, affirmed.

Page 330 U. S. 239

Respondents brought suits against the United States under the Tucker Act, 36 Stat. 1091, to recover sums allegedly due for transportation of government property. The District Courts gave judgment for respondents. 60 F.Supp. 433 (No. 56). The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. 152 F.2d 228, 230. This Court granted certiorari. 328 U.S. 826. Affirmed, p. 330 U. S. 247.

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