Champlin v United States
In 1943, During World War II, a Navy TBD-1 Devastator crashed eight miles off the coast of Florida. The entire crew survived and there is no indication that any efforts were made to locate the plane by the Navy. Collector Doug Champlin, the owner of an airplane museum in Arizona, spent approximately $130,000 to recover the plane. The problem has to do with ownership. He claims to be the owner of the lost/abandoned plane. The Navy claims ownership and wants to put the plane in the National Museum of Naval Aviation at Pensacola, Naval Air Station. The TBD-1 Devastator has significant historical value as no Devastators survived the war.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that only Congress can order the abandonment of federal property. Hence the Navy owns the plane. Mr. Champlin doesn’t mind giving the plane back to the Navy; he just wants to be reimbursed. The Navy is hesitant to pay and Mr. Champlin is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Question: Consider what this rule might mean to businesses, particularly those that contract with the government. Consider, for example, a store or outlet that purchases federal/military surplus. What provisions might they need to include in a contract that might not be required in a typical commercial or consumer contract?
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