Flora v. United States

PETITIONER: Flora
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Trailways Bus Terminal

DOCKET NO.: 492
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 362 US 145 (1960)
ARGUED: May 20, 1958
DECIDED: Jun 16, 1958
REHEARING GRANTED: Jun 22, 1959
REARGUED: Nov 12, 1959
DECIDED: Mar 21, 1960

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Flora v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Reargument - November 12, 1959 in Flora v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - May 20, 1958 in Flora v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 492, Walter W. Flora versus United States of America.

Mr. Thrower.

Randolph W. Thrower:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case that's here rises on writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

The single question involved in this case is whether or not the District Court had jurisdiction of a suit to recover an alleged overpayment of tax.

The facts here are not in dispute.

The taxpayer filed his return and in his return, deducted a large loss as being an ordinary loss.

The commissioner, upon investigation, disallowed the loss asserting that it was a capital loss and does not deducted -- not deductible and asserted a deficiency which was subsequently assessed in the amount of approximately $28,000.

In response to notice and demand, the taxpayer paid a little more than $5000.

He, thereafter, filed a claim for refund.

That claim was rejected on the merits.

The taxpayer then brought this suit to recover the payments that had been made.

The Government, in answering the complaint, pleaded that there had been no overpayment, that as a matter of fact, an additional amount was owed and counterclaimed for the balance of the unpaid assessment of about $23,000.

At the same time, it also moved in effect to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the entire assessment had not been paid before bringing the suit.

Now the question here is whether or not that motion to dismiss should have been granted.

It is, we believe, as if A sues B to recover a payment which he assessed to have been erroneous and excessive.

B responds that A not only owed the amount that was paid but also owes an additional amount and B counterclaims for that additional amount as the Government did here.

Now under all normal concepts of pleadings and jurisdiction, this response goes to the merits of the claim and the counterclaim but does not go to the jurisdiction of the Court.

Now we submit simply that the normal concepts of jurisdiction apply in this case.

Now the parties agreed that jurisdiction in the case rests upon a construction of Section 1346 (a) of Title 28 of the United States Code which was familiarly referred to as the Tucker Act of 1887.

Now if I may read certain pertinent portions of that Section it provides, "The District Courts shall have original jurisdiction, concurrent with the Court of Claims, of any civil action against the United States for the recovery of any internal-revenue tax alleged to have been erroneously or illegally assessed or collected, of any penalty and so forth, or of any sum alleged to have been excessive or in any manner wrongfully collected under the internal revenue law."

Now the Government, if I properly understand its brief, admits that the literal meaning of this language does support jurisdiction.

Now such an admission, that we believe, is required by the statute, the words, “Any civil action for the recovery of any internal-revenue tax or of any sum alleged to have been excessive or in any manner wrongfully collected,” are very broad and very comprehensive.

As a matter of fact --

Earl Warren:

Would it make any difference in your case if he had only paid small amounts, say pay $5 instead of $5000?

Would that be any difference in your case?

Randolph W. Thrower:

Mr. Chief Justice, we believe that it would not.

Earl Warren:

It would not.

That's all I (Voice Overlap) --

Randolph W. Thrower:

May I state further in that connection.