150 U.S. 566
December 11, 1893
Statement by Mr. Justice BREWER:
On May 4, 1889, Alfred B. Mullett filed his petition in the court of claims, seeking to recover for services as an architect rendered in the year 1871, in preparing designs for the building now occupied by the state, war, and navy departments, and working drawings for the construction of the same. Other claims were stated in the petition, but they have since been [150 U.S. 566, 567] abandoned by the petitioner. On June 2, 1890, the court of claims made its findings of fact, as follows:
The opinion of the court was delivered by Davis, J., and is reported in 25 Ct. Cl. 409. From such judgment the petitioner appealed to this court. After taking the appeal, he died, and the action was revived in the name of his administratrix.
Geo. S. Boutwell, for appellant. [150 U.S. 566, 569] Asst. Atty. Gen. Dodge and Charles W. Russell, for the United States.
Mr. Justice BREWER, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.
In addition to those that have been quoted above, there was a seventh finding, with respect to the schedule of the charges of architects, and the rules governing the same; but, in the view we have taken of this case, that is immaterial. At the time the services suel for were rendered, the plaintiff held the position of suprevising architect of the treasury, the salary of which, as fixed by Rev. St. 235, was $5,000 a year. The nature and extent of his duties were not specifically defined by law, but that they were of the character of those described in this case is implied from the title of 'supervising architect.' 'It is not claimed that any new office was created. On the contrary, the averment in the petition is that be was employed 'in his professional capacity as an architect;' in other words, that he rendered certain services not within the scope of his official duties as supervising architect of the treasury. It will also be perceived that no express promise of payment for these services was made by any officer or representative of the government, for the suggestion and request in respect to the preparation of plans spoken of in the first finding carried with it no mention of compensation. Nor is there disclosed in the fifth finding any such promise. An expression to the plaintiff, on the part of persons representing the government, of their belief that his services would be compensated, is very far from a promise to pay. There is no pretense of any act of congress authorizing payment, or in terms directing employment. Reliance is placed, not upon an express, but an implied, promise, and recovery is sought upon a quantum meruit. Here we are confronted by these provisions of the Revised Statutes, which were in force at the time of these transactions:
Obviously, the purpose of congress, as disclosed by these sections, was that every officer or regular employe of the government should be limited in his compensation to such salary or fees as were by law specifically attached to his office or employment. 'Extras,' which are such a fruitful subject of disputes in private contracts, were to be eliminated from the public service. Such purpose forbids a recovery in this case. Mr. Mullett, as supervising architect of the treasury, was in the regular employ of the government at a stated salary of $5,000. He was employed to render services which, if not strictly appertaining to his office or position, were of the same general character, and to be performed at the same place. No new office was created. No express promise of payment was made. No act of congress, in terms, gave authority to promise payment, or made any provision or appropriation for compensation. The case is one simply of a claim for compensation for extra services, when no express authority therefor can be found in any act of congress.
These sections have been in force many years, and have received the consideration of this court in several cases: Hoyt v. U. S., 10 How. 109; Converse v. U. S., [150 U.S. 566, 571] 21 How. 463; U. S. v. Shoemaker, 7 Wall. 338; Stansbury v. U. S., 8 Wall. 33; Hall v. U. S., 91 U.S. 559 ; U. S. v. Brindle, 110 U.S. 689 , 4 Sup. Ct. 180; U. S. v. Saunders, 120 U.S. 126 , 7 Sup. Ct. 467; Badeau v. U. S., 130 U.S. 430, 451 , 9 S. Sup. Ct. 579; and U. S. v. King, 147 U.S. 676 , 13 Sup. Ct. 439, in which most of the former cases were reviewed, and in which it was held that a clerk of a circuit court is not entitled to compensation for services in selecting juries in connection with the jury commissioner, there being no statute expressly authorizing such compensation.
A still later case is that of Gibson v. Peters, 150 U.S. 342 , 14 Sup. Ct. 134, (decided at the present term,) in which Gibson, a United States district attorney, claimed that, having the right to represent the receiver of a national bank in a suit brought by such receiver, he had rendered of offered to render such services, and was therefore entitled to payment for such services out of the funds in the hand of the receiver, and this by reason of the provision in Rev. St. 5238, that all expenses of any such receivership should be paid out of the assets of the bank before distribution. It was held that his compensation was fully prescribed by sections 823 to 827 of the Revised Statutes, and that he could not recover anything in addition for these services, notwithstanding the general language of section 5238.
The present case illustrates the propriety of such legislation as is found in these sections. Eighteen years after the services were rendered, 14 years after he had left the employ of the government, the petitioner commences his action to recover compensation. No written contract for the services is shown. No legislation appears which directs that any services be called for, outside of those to be rendered by the officers and employes of the government, or which recognizes that any extra services have been rendered, or provides any payment therefor. In the rapid changes which attend public life, many, if not most, of those who participated in the negotiations and arrangements which led up to the doing of this work by the petitioner, and who could doubtless have thrown light upon the matter, have passed away. Petitioner was in the employ [150 U.S. 566, 572] of the government, and employed for work of like character to that sued for. He was the one officer or employe to whom, when this work had to be done, attention would naturally have been directed. It would seem from his delay in bringing suit that he recognized this work as within the scope of his regular duties. At the most, it can only be regarded as extra service cast upon him as an officer of the government, and by reason of his official position, and as such there is no express provision of law for its compensation.
The judgment of the court of claims is right, and it must be affirmed.