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UNITED STATES v. PENNSYLVANIA

July 30, 1963

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: FOLLMER

This matter is before the Court on motion of defendant for summary judgment and plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment.

The facts which appear from the Complaint and affidavit filed on behalf of plaintiff and which are not disputed are as follows:

 By letter of October 9, 1945, the Chairman of the United States Surplus Property Board was asked, by C. M. Woolworth, Secretary of Property and Supplies of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to supply the contemplated land-based Pennsylvania Maritime Academy with equipment necessary for its operation. On September 17, 1946, the Commonwealth, through its engineering representative, forwarded a list of the said required equipment, which in due course was transferred to the Commonwealth by the United States.

 By letter dated August 15, 1947, the United States made demand upon the Commonwealth for return of the property transferred since it was not used in connection with the training of cadet-midshipmen at the Pennsylvania Maritime Academy, which Academy was never completed.

 By letter dated June 25, 1948, the said Commonwealth Secretary of Property and Supplies advised Admiral Telfair Knight, Comm. U.S.M.C., that the tools and other items contained in the shipments of surplus property were lent to various State agencies, and thus they could not be returned. This letter also stated that construction of the Pennsylvania Maritime Academy had been suspended.

 By Public Law 630, 79th Congress, approved August 7, 1946 (60 Stat. 884), Congress authorized the War Shipping Administration and the Maritime Commission to make available certain surplus property to certain maritime academies. The Act provided:

 'That the War Shipping Administration and the Maritime Commission are authorized to make available or transfer to any State or municipality maintaining a marine school or nautical branch in accordance with the Act of July 29, 1941 (Public Law 191, Seventy-seventh Congress, 55 Stat. 607), excess or surplus material, supplies, and equipment for use in connection with the teaching and training of cadet-midshipmen, at such ports or other localities as may be designated by such State, without charge except for transportation and delivery of such material, supplies, or equipment.'

 Prior to the enactment of said Public Law 630, in 1945, the Pennsylvania Legislature appropriated $ 2,000,000.00 toward a permanent land-based maritime academy. The above requisition for equipment was made by the Commonwealth in anticipation of the enactment of said Public Law 630.

 Between September and December 1946, after approval by the United States of the said list submitted on behalf of the Commonwealth, the United States, as above indicated, made the property available to the land-based maritime academy for the specific use authorized by the Act and transferred title to said property to the Commonwealth, same valued at not less than $ 500,084.21.

 In January or February 1947, the Pennsylvania State Legislature refused to appropriate additional funds for completion of the said land-based maritime academy building, and in May 1947 the Pennsylvania State Senate passed a bill, and sent it to the House for its concurrence, authorizing the closing of the maritime academy and the said academy ceased to function after May 1947.

 The Complaint alleges that the property in question was delivered to the Commonwealth and title thereto was transferred by the United States for "use in connection with the teaching and training of cadet-midshipmen"; that a very minor part, if any, of said property has ever been used by the Commonwealth for the purpose for which it was so delivered; that the Commonwealth agreed to use the property for that purpose; that the War Shipping Administration and Maritime Commission were unauthorized, as the Commonwealth knew, to deliver property to the Commonwealth for any other purpose, and the agreement of the Commonwealth to use the property for that purpose was an essential condition of plaintiff's delivering the property to defendant; that demand had been made by the United States for return of said property and equipment, which demand has been refused.

 Defendant has based its motion for summary judgment on the Act of June 3, 1955, Public Law 61, 84th Congress, 69 Stat. 84 (set forth at 40 U.S.C. § 484 in historical note), which provides:

 'Sec. 4. (a) In the case of personal property donated or sold at a discount for educational, public health or memorial purposes, including research, under any provision of law enacted prior to the enactment of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, no term, condition, reservation, or restriction imposed on the use of such property shall remain in effect after the date of the enactment of this Act. This subsection shall not be deemed to terminate any civil or criminal liability arising out of a violation of such a term, condition, reservation, or restriction which occurred prior to the enactment of this Act, if a judicial proceeding to enforce such liability is pending at the time of, or commenced within one year after the enactment of this Act.'

 The repealing Act of 1955, phrased as it is in broad terms, is a general statute using broad generic terms as, 'educational,' 'public health,' 'research', while the Act of 1946 referred only to 'the teaching and training of ...


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