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Eastern Extension Tel. Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 355 (1920)

Eastern Extension, Australasia & China

Telegraph Company, Limited v. United States

No. 357

Argued December 15, 1919

Decided January 12, 1920

251 U.S. 355


The Court of Claims is without jurisdiction of a claim based on an obligation of the United States growing directly out of the treaty with Spain ceding the Philippine Islands or on one imposed by principles of international law as a consequence of the cession. Pp. 251 U. S. 357, 251 U. S. 362. Eastern Extension Tel. Co. v. United States, 231 U. S. 326; Jud.Code, § 153.

To create an express or, (in a strict sense) an implied contract binding the United States, some officer with express or implied power to commit the government must have intended that result. P. 251 U. S. 363.

A cable company holding Spanish concessions in the Philippines obliging it to transmit government messages, in part free and in part at reduced rates, and to pay certain taxes, and entitling it to a subsidy, claimed the subsidy from the United States upon the ground that the government, by accepting the benefits, had assumed the burdens of the concessions. Held that no such contract could be derived from the facts as found. Id.

Such a contract could not be implied from the use of the cable service in transmitting government messages when the government paid

Page 251 U. S. 356

the rates, in part reduced but all as fixed and charged by the company, and, through the Secretary of War, expressly declined free service. P. 251 U. S. 363.

Nor did any liability of the United States arise from expenditures made by the company in voluntarily extending its lines with approval of the government given without prejudice to the government's rights. P. 251 U. S. 364.

The acceptance by subordinate executive officials of the Insular government of payments tendered by the cable company in connection with statements of account assuming a recognition of its concessions and right to subsidy held no basis for implying an obligation of the United States to pay the subsidy. Id.

54 Ct.Clms. 108 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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