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Admiral Oriental Line v. United States - 86 F.2d 201 (2d Cir. 1936)


Under the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C.S. § 41(20), if a bill sounds in contract, and calls only for the payment of money, relief may be granted though only a court of equity would give it.


Libellant filed a libel in personam in the admiralty against respondent principal seeking to recover the costs of defending an action brought against it by a shipper. Respondent filed a libel in personam seeking to bring in third-party respondent principal, asserting that third-party respondent was the principal in the whole venture and was therefore responsible to it and libellant. The district court issued decrees dismissing both libels in personam because the actions were not cognizable in the admiralty. Both the libellant and the respondent appealed.


Were the actions filed by the libellant and respondent cognizable in the admiralty?




On appeal, the court reversed and remanded the decrees. The court held that the action filed by respondent against third-party respondent could stand as a petition under the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C.S. § 41 (20), and the action of libellant against respondent could stand as an action at common law for money paid under 28 U.S.C.S. § (1)(b). The court held that since respondent had not paid anything to libellant and had not yet suffered a loss, respondent's petition was premature and respondent could not recover at law. However, respondent could recover under the rule in equity that before paying a debt, a surety could call upon the principal to exonerate him by discharging it.

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