MR. JUSTICE BURTON delivered the opinion of the Court.
The question presented is whether the Federal Tort Claims Act
No. 218—YELLOW CAB CASE.
December 1, 1946, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, four passengers in a taxicab were injured by a collision between the cab and a United States mail truck. Claiming diversity of citizenship and charging negligence on the part of the cab driver, they sued his employer, the Yellow Cab Company, in the United States District Court. By leave of court, the company impleaded the United States as a third-party defendant and charged that the negligence of the mail truck driver made the United States liable for all or part of the passengers' claims against the company. The United States moved for its dismissal as a third-party defendant on the ground that the Federal Tort Claims
No. 204—CAPITAL TRANSIT CASE.
August 4, 1947, in the District of Columbia, a passenger on a streetcar was injured by a collision between it and a jeep operated by a United States soldier acting within the scope of his duties. The passenger, charging negligence, sued the Capital Transit Company in the District Court for the District of Columbia. By leave of court, the company impleaded the United States as a third-party defendant, charging that the soldier's negligence was the sole or a contributing cause of the collision and asking judgment against the United States for a contributable portion of any sum which might be awarded against the company in favor of the passenger. In response to motions by the United States, the court entered a final judgment dismissing the third-party complaint on the ground that it failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted against the United States. Stradley v. Capital Transit Co., 87 F.Supp. 94. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed. 87 U. S. App. D. C. ___, 183 F.2d 825. It reviewed the opinion in Howey v. Yellow Cab, supra, and disagreed with it. See also, Sappington v. Barrett, 86 U. S. App. D. C. 334, 182 F.2d 102. On petition of the company, we
THE GOVERNMENT HAS CONSENTED TO BE SUED FOR CONTRIBUTION.
In the Yellow Cab case the court below concluded that under the law of Pennsylvania a private individual would be liable to his joint tort-feasor for contribution,
The Government now contends, in both cases, that it has not consented to be sued for contribution claimed by a
The Federal Tort Claims Act waives the Government's immunity from suit in sweeping language.
On its face the Act amply covers such consent. Section 410 (a) waives immunity from suit on—
The words "any claim against the United States . . . on account of personal injury" (emphasis supplied) are broad words in common usage. They are not words of art. Section 421 lists 12 classes of claims to which the waiver shall not apply, but claims for contribution are not so listed.
This Act does not subject the Government to a previously unrecognized type of obligation. Through hundreds of private relief acts, each Congress for many years
Despite the broad language of the Act, the Government has reviewed its legislative history in an attempt to restrict its scope. Most of that history relates to periods prior to the 2d Session of the 79th Congress at which the Act was passed. After more than 20 years of consideration, the subject was then presented to Congress in a new aspect.
We find, therefore, that the Government has consented to be sued for contribution under the circumstances of these cases—at least in a separate action. There remains the question of whether the Government may be impleaded as a third-party defendant.
THE GOVERNMENT HAS CONSENTED TO BE IMPLEADED AS A THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANT IN AN ACTION FOR CONTRIBUTION DUE A JOINT TORT-FEASOR.
The Government contends that, even if the Federal Tort Claims Act carries the Government's consent to be sued in a separate action for contribution due a joint tort-feasor, it does not carry consent to be impleaded as a third-party defendant to meet such a claim.
We find nothing in the nature of the rights and obligations of joint tort-feasors to require such a procedural distinction, nor does the Act state such a requirement. On the contrary, the Act expressly makes the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure applicable,
Once we have concluded that the Federal Tort Claims Act covers an action for contribution due a tort-feasor, we should not, by refinement of construction, limit that consent to cases where the procedure is by separate action and deny it where the same relief is sought in a third-party action. As applied to the State of New York, Judge Cardozo said in language which is apt here: "No sensible reason can be imagined why the State, having consented to be sued, should thus paralyze the remedy." 243 N. Y. at 147, 153 N. E. at 29. "A sense of justice has brought
The Government suggests that difficult procedural problems may arise in other cases if a waiver of immunity is held to exist in these cases. For example, the Act requires claims against the United States to be tried without a jury and, although a jury was not insisted upon in the instant cases, the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution preserves to private individuals their right of trial by jury on such claims in a federal court. The Government argues that the Act is not sufficiently specific to permit two such different modes of trial to arise in the same case.
Such difficulties are not insurmountable.
We therefore conclude that the Federal Tort Claims Act carries the Government's consent to be sued for contribution
The Yellow Cab case is affirmed. The Capital Transit case is reversed and the cause remanded to the District Court for proceedings in conformity with this opinion.
No. 218, affirmed.
No. 204, reversed and remanded.
MR. JUSTICE BLACK and MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS dissent.
A proviso as to death cases, included in this section by 61 Stat. 722, as of August 2, 1946, is not material here.
Effective September 1, 1948, the above provisions were repealed and their substance, material here, was largely reenacted in 28 U. S. C. (1946 ed., Supp. III) §§ 1346 (b), 1402 (b), 2402 and 2674. We rely on the meaning of the language in the original Act and read the revised language as carrying it out. Insofar as the changes are material here, the reviser's note merely stated that "Minor changes were made in phraseology." H. R. Rep. No. 308, 80th Cong., 1st Sess. A123. Furthermore, the acts complained of in the instant cases occurred before the revised code became effective and the parties treat the original language as applicable. "Any rights or liabilities now existing under such [repealed] sections or parts thereof shall not be affected by this repeal." 62 Stat. 992, effective September 1, 1948.
The significance of the failure to list a claim for contribution as excepted from the waiver is emphasized by such exceptions as the following:
"(a) Any claim based upon an act or omission of an employee of the Government, exercising due care, in the execution of a statute or regulation, whether or not such statute or regulation be valid . . . .
"(h) Any claim arising out of assault, battery, false imprisonment, false arrest, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, libel, slander, misrepresentation, deceit, or interference with contract rights. . . ." 60 Stat. 845, 846, 28 U. S. C. (1946 ed.) § 943 (a) and (h), see 28 U. S. C. (1946 ed., Supp. III) § 2680 (a) and (h).
Many bills to enlarge the waiver of immunity were introduced but not passed. See Brooks v. United States, 337 U.S. 49, 51; Gottlieb, The Federal Tort Claims Act—A Statutory Interpretation, 35 Geo. L. J. 1-8 (1946-1947).
"PRIVATE BILLS BANNED
"SEC. 131. No private bill or resolution (including so-called omnibus claims or pension bills), and no amendment to any bill or resolution, authorizing or directing (1) the payment of money for property damages, for personal injuries or death for which suit may be instituted under the Federal Tort Claims Act, or for a pension (other than to carry out a provision of law or treaty stipulation); (2) the construction of a bridge across a navigable stream; or (3) the correction of a military or naval record, shall be received or considered in either the Senate or the House of Representatives." 60 Stat. 831.
The views expressed in the earlier legislative history of this particular bill lose force by their omission from the 1946 report and discussion. However, the following comment made in 1942 by the House Committee on the Judiciary, then in charge of the bill, is of some significance for the reason that it relates to the effect of the omission of a certain provision, and there was no occasion to refer again to that omission in 1946:
"Section 403 of the Senate bill provided for proportionate liability of the United States where a Government employee was a joint tort-feasor with someone else. This provision is not contained in the recommended bill and in cases involving joint tort-feasors the rights and liabilities of the United States will be determined by the local law." (Emphasis supplied.) H. R. Rep. No. 2245, 77th Cong., 2d Sess. 12.
This recognizes that with the provision for proportionate liability eliminated, as is still the case, the immunity of the United States should be considered as waived in relation to the Government's rights and liabilities in cases involving joint tort-feasors.
In the same report, at page 9, the Committee made statements which are relied upon by the Government in argument, as assimilating the proposed jurisdiction of the District Courts under the Federal Tort Claims Act to their existing jurisdiction under the Tucker Act. Based on such assimilation, it is argued that the United States may not be joined as a defendant under the new Act because it could not be so joined under the Tucker Act. These statements were repeated in the report of the same Committee in 1945. H. R. Rep. No. 1287 (on H. R. 181), 79th Cong., 1st Sess. 5. The statements, however, were entirely omitted from even the sectional analysis of the measure when in 1946 it was incorporated in the Reorganization Bill and the report on it was made by the Senate Committee on the Organization of Congress. S. Rep. No. 1400 (on S. 2177), 79th Cong., 2d Sess. 29-34. The omitted comments related to the joinder of the United States as a co-defendant, rather than as a third-party defendant. We note also that the Tort Claims Act substantially broadens the jurisdiction of the District Courts as compared to that provided by the Tucker Act. Under the Tort Claims Act their jurisdiction is unlimited in amount instead of being restricted to claims not exceeding $10,000; it is exclusive of, rather than concurrent with, that of the Court of Claims, and the District Court procedure is expressly made subject to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure rather than to the Tucker Act.
The above references to the specific instances in which the Tucker Act procedure is to control under the Federal Tort Claims Act emphasize the application of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure under all other circumstances.
In the revision of Title 28, effective September 1, 1948, this section was omitted as unnecessary because "the Rules of Civil Procedure promulgated by the Supreme Court shall apply to all civil actions." S. Rep. No. 1559, 80th Cong., 2d Sess. 12, as to Amendment No. 61.
"(a) WHEN DEFENDANT MAY BRING IN THIRD PARTY. Before the service of his answer a defendant may move ex parte or, after the service of his answer, on notice to the plaintiff, for leave as a third-party plaintiff to serve a summons and complaint upon a person not a party to the action who is or may be liable to him for all or part of the plaintiff's claim against him. If the motion is granted and the summons and complaint are served, the person so served, hereinafter called the third-party defendant, shall make his defenses to the third-party plaintiff's claim as provided in Rule 12 . . . . The third-party defendant may assert against the plaintiff any defenses which the third-party plaintiff has to the plaintiff's claim. . . ." (The amendments which became effective March 19, 1948, and are included here, made no changes that are material in the instant cases.)
Rule 20 similarly provides for the permissive joinder of parties.