Rodgers v. United States (185 U.S. 83)
This is an appeal from the court of claims. The claimant, Frederick Rodgers, a rear admiral of the line of the Navy, brought suit to recover the sum of $3,358,13, which he claims as the balance due him on account of pay and allowances for the period between March 3, 1899, and March 2, 1901. The claim is founded upon the law of Congress known as the 'navy personnel act,' which was approved on March 3, 1899, and entitled 'An Act to Reorganize and Increase the Efficiency of the Personnel of the Navy and Marine Corps of the United States.' 30 Stat. at L. 1004, chap. 413.
The applicable sections are 7 and 13, which, omitting irrelevant portions, read:
'Sec. 7. That the active list of the line of the Navy, as constituted by § 1 of this act, shall be composed of eighteen rear admirals, seventy captains, one hundred and twelve commanders, one hundred and seventy lieutenant commanders, three hundred lieutenants, commanders, three hundred lieutenants, three hundred and fifty lieutenants (junior grade) and ensigns: Provided, That each rear admiral embraced in the nine lower numbers of that grade shall receive the same pay and allowance as are now allowed a brigadier general in the Army. Officers, after performing three years' service in the grade of ensign, shall, after passing the examinations now required by law, be eligible to promotion to the grade of lieutenant (junior grade): Provided, That when the office of chief of bureau is filled by an officer below the rank of rear admiral, said officers shall, while holding said office, have the rank of rear admiral and receive the same pay and allowance as are now allowed a brigadier general in the Army: And provided, further, That nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prevent the retirement of officers who now have the rank or relative rank of commodore with the rank and pay of that grade. . . .
'Sec. 13. That, after June 30th, 1899, commissioned officers of the line of the Navy and of the Medical and Pay Corps shall receive the same pay and allowances, except forage, as are or may be provided by or in pursuance of law for the officers of corresponding rank in the Army; Provided, That such officers when on shore shall receive the allowances, but fifteen per centum less pay than when on sea duty; but this provision shall not apply to warrant officers commissioned under § 12 of this act: Provided, further, That when naval officers are detailed for shore duty beyond seas they shall receive the same pay and allowances as are or may be provided by or in pursuance of law for officers of the Army detailed for duty in similar places. . . . And provided, further, That no provision of this act shall operate to reduce the present pay of any commissioned officer now in the Navy; and in any case in which the pay of such an officer would otherwise be reduced he shall continue to receive pay according to existing law: And provided, further, That nothing in this act shall operate to increase or reduce the pay of any officer now on the retired list of the Navy.'
By § 1466 of the Revised Statutes of the United States it was, among other things, provided:
'Sec. 1466. The relative rank between officers of the Navy, whether on the active or retired list, and officers of the Army, shall be as follows, lineal rank only being considered:
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'Rear admirals with major generals.
'Commodores with brigadier generals.
'Captains with colonels.'
The findings show that the claimant was appointed and commissioned a rear admiral on March 3, 1899. From that date until March 2, 1901, he was one of the rear admirals 'embraced in the nine lower numbers of that grade.' He served on shore from March 3, 1899, to February 13, 1901, and for the rest of the time at sea. While at sea he received the same pay as was allowed a brigadier general in the Army,' and while on shore he received pay at the same rate less 15 per cent, together with commutation in lieu of allowance of quarters. Judgment was rendered in favor of the United States (36 Ct. Cl. 266), from which judgment the claimant took this appeal.
Messrs. James H. Hayden and Joseph K. McCammon for appellant.
Assistant Attorney General Pradt and Mr. John Q. Thompson for appellee.
Mr. Justice Brewer delivered the opinion of the court: