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United States v. Great Northern Railway Co., 287 U.S. 144 (1932)

United States v. Great Northern Railway Co.

No. 96

Argued October 11, 1932

Decided November 7, 1932

287 U.S. 144


1. A payment made by the government to a railroad company under the guaranty provision (§ 209) of the Transportation Act, not in excess of the amount due as then found and certified by the Interstate Commerce Commission, but an overpayment if tested by the Commission's final computation of the guaranty, five years later, held not recoverable by the United States as a payment made by mistake of fact or in violation of law, the discrepancy being attributable merely to the use of different formulae for adjusting maintenance expense to fluctuations in cost of labor and material, and the superiority of one method over the other being a matter of opinion, and not of mathematical precision. Pp. 287 U. S. 151-152.

2. A certificate issued by the Commission under § 212(a) of the Transportation Act (added by amendment of Feb. 26, 1921) for an amount "definitely ascertained by it to be due" to a carrier under the guaranty of § 209, is not provisional and tentative, and the fact that the amount paid under such certificate exceeds the Commission's subsequent and final certificate of the amount guaranteed to the carrier does not entitle the United States to a repayment of the excess. P. 287 U. S. 153.

3. If the meaning of a statute be uncertain, recourse may be had to its legislative history and to the statements by those in charge of it during its consideration by Congress. P. 287 U. S. 154.

Page 287 U. S. 145

4. The evidence does not require a holding that the Commission acted with undue haste and upon inadequate data in approving the payment here in question. P. 287 U. S. 155.

57 F.2d 385 affirmed.

Certiorari, 286 U.S. 540, to review the affirmance of a judgment for the above-named railway company, in an action by the United States to recover a payment of money.

Page 287 U. S. 146

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