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KEIFER & KEIFER V. RFC CORP., 306 U. S. 381 (1939)

U.S. Supreme Court

Keifer & Keifer v. RFC Corp., 306 U.S. 381 (1939)

Keifer & Keifer v. Reconstruction Finance Corp.

and Regional Agricultural Credit Corp.

No. 364

Argued January 31, 1939, February 1, 1939

Decided February 27, 1939

306 U.S. 381


1. A Regional Agricultural Credit Corporation, chartered by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation by authority of § 201(e) of the Emergency Relief and Construction Act of 1932, and which, under that statute, is government-financed and managed and empowered to make loans to farmers and stockmen for agricultural purposes or for raising and marketing livestock held subject to suit. Pp. 306 U. S. 392 et seq.

Neither the statute nor the charter explicitly rendered the Credit Corporation amenable to suit, but, among the corporate powers granted the Finance Corporation by the Act creating it was authority "to sue and be sued, to complain and to defend, in any court of competent jurisdiction, state or federal."

2. Whether a governmental corporation is endowed with the Government's immunity from suit depends upon the congressional purpose in creating it. P. 306 U. S. 388.

Immunity is not necessarily to be inferred from the fact that the corporation is doing the Government's work, or from the omission of the conventional sue-and-be-sued clause from its charter.

3. Liability to suit of Regional Agricultural Credit Corporations, chartered through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, is to be inferred from the numerous instances in which Congress, when creating other corporations for purposes not relevantly different from those of the Credit Corporations, has expressly included authority to sue and be sued. This uniform practice reveals a

Page 306 U. S. 382

definite policy which should be given hospitable scope. Failure to include express authority to sue and be sue in the exceptional case of the Credit Corporations is explained by an assumption on the part of Congress that that authority would pass to them from the Reconstruction Corporation already endowed with it. P. 306 U. S. 390.

4. Recovery against a Regional Agricultural Credit Corporation for damages resulting from its negligence in failing to provide proper care for livestock delivered to it under a contract of bailment may be had in contract. P. 306 U. S. 394.

5. In the light of recent congressional legislation, liability of a government corporation empowered generally "to sue and be sued" is not confined to suits sounding only in contract. P. 306 U. S. 396.

97 F.2d 812 reversed.

Certiorari, 305 U.S. 588, to review the affirmance of a judgment of the District Court (22 F.Supp. 918) dismissing on demurrer an action for damages against the two federal corporations above named. The question brought up by the certiorari concerns only the claim advanced for the Regional Agricultural Credit Corporation that it is immune from suit.

Page 306 U. S. 387

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