Rainwater v. United States

PETITIONER: Rainwater
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Wolverine Tube, Inc.

DOCKET NO.: 276
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 356 US 590 (1958)
ARGUED: Apr 02, 1958
DECIDED: May 26, 1958

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Rainwater v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 02, 1958 in Rainwater v. United States

Leon B. Catlett:

-- the complaints in this case were filed in the United States District Court at Little Rock, Arkansas.

One of the complaints is against R.S. Rainwater & Sons, a partnership and other against Citizens National Bank of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas.

Jurisdiction in both complaints is grounded upon a False Claims statute.

It's alleged that these petitioners made and caused to be made and presented and caused to be presented false claims to the Commodity Credit Corporation, an agency at instrumentality of the Government of the United States.

Briefly, it's alleged in these complaints that these petitioners caused to be transmitted to Commodity Credit Corporation, 14 transmittal letters on which were listed 98 cotton producers' notes, secured by bales of cotton, which was ineligible under the Commodity Credit Corporation cotton program for 1949 and caused Commodity Credit Corporation to pay these notes.

And as shown by the transmittal letters, which Commodity Credit Corporation would not have done if it had known the true facts.

Now, motions to dismiss were filed in the United States District Court and those motions were sustained.

The case was appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit.Eight Circuit reversed in 242 F.2d, this case came upon certiorari.

Now, as I say, the jurisdiction in each of these complaints is based upon the False Claims statute.

The False Claims statute was enacted in 1863.

It originally provided in the one statute for criminal punishment and civil recovery against any person who should make or cause to be made or present a cause to be presented, a false claim against the Government of the United States or a department or officer thereof.

It was just the one statute provided for criminal penalties and civil recovery, and that was in 1863.

In 1878, the False Claims statute was divided into a civil portion and a criminal portion, 1878.

The civil portion became revised statutes 3490 and it provided that any person who should do any of the acts -- commit any of the acts recorded in the criminal portion of the statute, which is Revised Statutes 5438, should be responsible to the Government by a suit for double damages and a forfeiture in the amount of $2000.

In other words, the -- the civil portion of the False Claims statute was 3490 and yet adopted by reference, the provisions of the criminal portion which was 5438.

5438 remained that any person should be punished criminally for making and presenting to the -- a false claim to the Government of the United States or a department of the Government of the United States, or an officer thereof.

Now, that's the status in which we find ourselves in this case.

Now, 3490 has never been amended or dealt with or touched in any manner by Congress.

Its Revised Statutes 3490 that we're treating with in this case and it adopted by reference the provisions of the criminal section 5438.

Now, 5438 was repealed in 1909 and superseded by Section 35 of the criminal statutes.

It didn't change it in any other manner.

It still says that a man shall be punished criminally for making or causing to be made or presenting or causing to be presented a false claim against the Government of the United States, or a department or officer thereof.

Now, that's 1909.

Now, in 1918, due to the Government corporations which had or began to spring up, in 1918, this criminal statute now, 5438 which subsequently in 1909 became Section 35 of the Criminal Code was amended.

The criminal section was, to provide that -- add these words, that anymore persons who makes a cause to be made or presents a cause to be presented of -- of false claim against the Government of the United States or a department or officer or a corporation in which the United States is a stockholder, shall be punished criminally.

Now, that was in 1918.

Now, at the present time, that criminal section is found in the Code in Title 18 Section 1001 and Section 2 -- Title 18 287.

It was split but the criminal section is still to all intense and purposes as it was, after it had been amended in 1918.

But again, we are not concerned with the statute.

It's -- this case is brought under the Revised Statutes 3490.