Franconia Associates v. United States, 536 U.S. 129, 18 (2002)

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146

FRANCONIA ASSOCIATES v. UNITED STATES

Opinion of the Court

Two practical considerations reinforce this conclusion. Cf. Crown Coat Front Co. v. United States, 386 U. S. 503, 517 (1967) (the words "first accrues" must be interpreted "with due regard to those practical ends which are to be served by any limitation of the time within which an action must be brought" (internal quotation marks omitted)). Reading 2501 as the Government proposes would seriously distort the repudiation doctrine in suits brought under the Tucker Act. Assuming a claim could "first accrue" for limitations purposes on the date of repudiation, but see supra, at 144, a party aggrieved by the Government's renunciation of a contractual obligation anticipating future performance would be compelled by the looming limitations bar to forgo the usual option of awaiting the time performance is due before filing an action for breach. The Government's construction of 2501 would thus convert the repudiation doctrine from a shield for the promisee into a sword by which the Government could invoke its own wrongdoing to defeat otherwise timely suits. As Professor Corbin explained, "[t]he plaintiff should not be penalized for leaving to the defendant an opportunity to retract his wrongful repudiation; and he would be so penalized if the statutory period of limitation is held to begin to run against him immediately." Corbin, Contracts 989, at 967; see Roehm v. Horst, 178 U. S., at 10 ("[I]t seems reasonable to allow an option to the injured party, either to sue immediately, or to wait till the time when the act was to be done, . . . which may be advantageous to the innocent party.").

There is also reason to doubt that the Government's reading of 2501 would inure to the benefit of the United States. Putting prospective plaintiffs to the choice of either bringing suit soon after the Government's repudiation or forever relinquishing their claims would surely proliferate litigation.

ant to whom a right of action first accrued; successive claimants laboring under a disability would be unprotected by any tolling proviso. See J. Angell, Limitations of Actions 488, and n. 2 (6th ed. 1876).

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