The decision for the United States in "Dalehite v. United States,"'though by a closely divided Supreme Court, possibly indicates a turning point in litigation involving the construction of the Federal Tort Claims Act. The trend theretofore had been to expand the concept of suability and liability expressed in the Act. In "United States v. Aetna Casualty and Surety Co." the Court had established the right of an insurer-subrogee to sue in its own name on a portion of a claim arising in favor of the insured-subrogor, despite the Anti-Assignment Statute and the obvious procedural and administrative difficulties not dealt with in any wise by the statute. As a rhetorical conclusion to the Court's opinion, Chief Justice Vinson quoted Judge Cardozo:
"The exemption of the sovereign from suit involves hardship enough, where consent has been withheld. We are not to add to its rigor by refinement of construction, where consent has been announced."
The decision in United States v. Yellow Cab Co. upheld the right of plaintiffs to join private parties as co-defendants with the United States as alleged joint tort-feasors, and the right to implead the United States as a third-party defendant for the purpose of contribution, where local law contemplates contribution, although the jurisdictional statute is completely silent on this important adjunctive branch of tort law. In reaching its conclusion, the Court relied in part upon the fact that "the Act expressly makes the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure applicable, and Rule 14 provides for third-party practice."
Massillon M. Heuser,
Dalehite v. United States: A New Approach to the Federal Tort Claims Act?,
7 Vanderbilt Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.vanderbilt.edu/vlr/vol7/iss2/1