A-14361, JULY 2, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 2

A-14361: Jul 2, 1926

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WAS DAMAGED WHILE BEING USED ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS WITHOUT NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE EMPLOYEE. REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF REPAIRS IS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF MARCH 4. EWING WHICH WAS DAMAGED WHILE IN OFFICIAL USE UNDER A CONTRACT OF HIRE ENTERED INTO BETWEEN HIM AND GILBERT D. EWING WAS DRIVING A CAR OWNED BY HIM. CREDIT FOR THE PAYMENT ON VOUCHER 16752 WAS ORIGINALLY DISALLOWED FOR THE REASON THAT IT APPEARED THAT THE TRIP WAS ONE PRIMARILY FOR PERSONAL PLEASURE RATHER THAN ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND THAT. THE GOVERNMENT WAS NOT LIABLE FOR THE COST OF REPAIRS NECESSITATED BY THE COLLISION. FURNISHED A STATEMENT SHOWING THAT THE TRAVEL IN QUESTION WAS UNDERTAKEN ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS RENDERED NECESSARY ON ACCOUNT OF THE GREAT AMOUNT OF WORK TO BE DONE IN THE DISTRICT AT THAT TIME AND THAT IT WAS ONLY INCIDENTAL THAT MR.

A-14361, JULY 2, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 2

VEHICLES - AUTO HIRE - REPAIRS WHERE THE AUTOMOBILE OF AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FOREST SERVICE, BEING OPERATED BY HIM UNDER A CONTRACT OF HIRE ENTERED INTO WITH THE HIRING OFFICER OF THE FOREST SERVICE IN ACCORDANCE WITH REGULATION A-4, NATIONAL FOREST MANUAL, WAS DAMAGED WHILE BEING USED ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS WITHOUT NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE EMPLOYEE, REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF REPAIRS IS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1913, 37 STAT. 843, WHEN APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, JULY 2, 1926:

A. H. COUSINS, DISTRICT FISCAL AGENT, FOREST SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, REQUESTED MAY 1, 1926, REVIEW OF THE ACTION OF THIS OFFICE IN DISALLOWING CREDIT IN HIS ACCOUNT FOR AN ITEM OF $38.45 PAID ON VOUCHER NO. 16752 FOR APRIL, 1925, TO CARL EWING, FOREST RANGER, AS REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE COST OF REPAIRS MADE TO A CAR OWNED BY MR. EWING WHICH WAS DAMAGED WHILE IN OFFICIAL USE UNDER A CONTRACT OF HIRE ENTERED INTO BETWEEN HIM AND GILBERT D. BROWN, HIRING OFFICER OF THE FOREST SERVICE.

THE FACTS IN CONNECTION WITH THE CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT APPEAR TO BE THAT ON JUNE 15, 1924, MR. EWING, WHILE PROCEEDING FROM THE DAIRY CREEK RANGER STATION TO THE THOMAS CREEK RANGER STATION, FOR A CONFERENCE, COLLIDED WITH A CAR DRIVEN BY DR. H. E. KELTY, RESULTING IN A DAMAGE TO MR. EWING'S CAR TO THE EXTENT OF $38.45 FOR REPAIRS. MR. EWING WAS DRIVING A CAR OWNED BY HIM, AND HAD HIS FAMILY WITH HIM AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT.

CREDIT FOR THE PAYMENT ON VOUCHER 16752 WAS ORIGINALLY DISALLOWED FOR THE REASON THAT IT APPEARED THAT THE TRIP WAS ONE PRIMARILY FOR PERSONAL PLEASURE RATHER THAN ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AND THAT, THEREFORE, THE GOVERNMENT WAS NOT LIABLE FOR THE COST OF REPAIRS NECESSITATED BY THE COLLISION. SINCE THE DISALLOWANCE, HOWEVER, GILBERT D. BROWN, FOREST SUPERVISOR, HAS, BY LETTER OF APRIL 6, 1926, FURNISHED A STATEMENT SHOWING THAT THE TRAVEL IN QUESTION WAS UNDERTAKEN ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS RENDERED NECESSARY ON ACCOUNT OF THE GREAT AMOUNT OF WORK TO BE DONE IN THE DISTRICT AT THAT TIME AND THAT IT WAS ONLY INCIDENTAL THAT MR. EWING'S FAMILY WAS WITH HIM AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT. MR. BROWN'S LETTER IN THIS REGARD IS AS FOLLOWS:

THE FACT THAT MR. CARL M. EWING HAD HIS FAMILY WITH HIM WHEN THE CAR WHICH HE WAS DRIVING AND THAT OF DOCTOR KELTY COLLIDED, WAS MERELY INCIDENTAL. THE TRIP FROM DAIRY CREEK RANGER STATION TO THOMAS CREEK RANGER STATION AND RETURN WAS NECESSARY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTY. NOT HAVING A LOAD IN HIS CAR AND EXPECTING TO RETURN TO HIS STATION IN A SHORT TIME, HE HAD HIS FAMILY ACCOMPANY HIM GIVING THEM AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE WITH HIM LONGER. ON ACCOUNT OF THE GREAT AMOUNT OF WORK IN THE DISTRICT IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO HANDLE THE SITUATION WITHOUT WORKING OVER HOURS AND ON SUNDAY.

THIS PARTICULAR TRIP WAS MADE NECESSARY ON ACCOUNT OF SOME GRAZING DIFFICULTIES ARISING ON THE BORDER BETWEEN THE TWO RANGER DISTRICTS, AND RANGER EWING MET RANGER WHITE AT THE THOMAS CREEK RANGER STATION, TO SETTLE THESE QUESTIONS.

THE TRIP WAS NOT PRIMARILY PERSONAL, AND AS STATED ABOVE, THE FACT THAT HIS FAMILY WAS WITH HIM HAD NO BEARING UPON THE MATTER. HE WOULD NECESSARILY HAVE MADE THE TRIP WHETHER HIS FAMILY HAD GONE WITH HIM OR NOT.

IT APPEARS FROM THE EVIDENCE SUBMITTED THAT BOTH CARS WERE PROCEEDING AT A MODERATE RATE OF SPEED; THAT THE ACCIDENT WAS DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE ROAD AT THE POINT AT WHICH THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED WAS VERY NARROW AND SHARPLY CURVED AND THE VIEW OBSTRUCTED BY A HIGH BANK; AND THAT THERE WAS NO NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE DRIVER OF EITHER CAR. IN THIS CONNECTION DOCTOR KELTY, THE DRIVER OF THE OTHER CAR, HAS FURNISHED THE FOLLOWING CERTIFICATE:

I, DR. H. E. KELTY, OF LAKEVIEW, OREGON, DO HEREBY CERTIFY THAT AT THE TIME OF COLLISION WITH CARL EWING IN THOMAS CREEK CANYON ON JUNE 15, 1924, BOTH CARS WERE TRAVELING AT A VERY MODERATE RATE OF SPEED. THAT THE LOCATION AND TYPE OF THE ROAD MADE IT PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR TWO CARS MEETING AT JUST THIS POINT TO ESCAPE SOME FORM OF COLLISION. THAT EVERYTHING POSSIBLE UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES WAS DONE BY BOTH PARTIES TO PREVENT DAMAGE.

THERE WERE WITH ME MY WIFE AND FAMILY. MR. EWING HAD HIS WIFE AND FAMILY WITH HIM. DR. MICHAEL SULT AND FAMILY WERE FOLLOWING ME IN HIS CAR. ALL AGREED THAT THE ACCIDENT WAS UNAVOIDABLE AND WAS FREE FROM FAULT ON EITHER SIDE.

THE CAR DRIVEN BY MR. EWING WAS BEING OPERATED UNDER A CONTRACT OF HIRE ENTERED INTO BETWEEN MR. EWING AND MR. GILBERT D. BROWN, HIRING OFFICER OF THE FOREST SERVICE, IN ACCORDANCE WITH REGULATION A-4, NATIONAL FOREST MANUAL. THE CONTRACT PROVIDED FOR REIMBURSEMENT AT THE RATE OF 7 CENTS PER MILE, AND ALSO CONTAINED THE FOLLOWING PROVISION WITH REFERENCE TO LOSS OR DAMAGE:

LIABILITY FOR LOSS OF OR DAMAGE TO VEHICLES DURING THE PERIOD OF HIRE WILL BE ASSUMED BY THE FOREST SERVICE. THE FOREST SERVICE WILL NOT COMPENSATE THE OWNER FOR LOSS OR DAMAGE DUE TO NEGLIGENCE OR TO ORDINARY WEAR AND TEAR.

DECISIONS AS TO REIMBURSEMENT UNDER THIS CONTRACT, AND THE AMOUNT THEREOF, WILL BE MADE BY THE FORESTER.

IN THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1913, 37 STAT. 843, IT IS PROVIDED:

THAT HEREAFTER THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE IS AUTHORIZED TO REIMBURSE OWNERS OF HORSES, VEHICLES, AND OTHER EQUIPMENT LOST, DAMAGED, OR DESTROYED WHILE BEING USED FOR NECESSARY FIRE FIGHTING, TRAIL, OR OFFICIAL BUSINESS, SUCH REIMBURSEMENT TO BE MADE FROM ANY AVAILABLE FUNDS IN THE APPROPRIATION TO WHICH THE HIRE OF SUCH EQUIPMENT IS PROPERLY CHARGEABLE.

UNDER THIS ACT IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT A CONTRACT OF HIRE ENTERED INTO PURSUANT TO REGULATION A-4, NATIONAL FOREST MANUAL, AS IN THIS CASE, WHICH AUTHORIZED REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE USE OF THE CAR AT THE RATE OF 7 CENTS PER MILE, DOES NOT PRECLUDE AN ALLOWANCE OF A PROPER CLAIM FOR THE COST OF EXTRAORDINARY REPAIRS RESULTING FROM DAMAGE SUSTAINED WHILE THE CAR IS IN OFFICIAL USE UNDER SUCH A CONTRACT OF HIRE AND BEING OPERATED FREE FROM NEGLIGENCE. A.D. 6561, MARCH 29, 1922. THE VOUCHER COVERING REIMBURSEMENT IN THIS CASE WAS APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE PRIOR TO PAYMENT AND IT APPEARS THAT THE FACTS OF THE CASE WARRANTED SUCH APPROVAL. SEE 21 COMP. DEC. 250.

UPON THE FACTS NOW APPEARING CREDIT WILL BE ALLOWED IN THE DISBURSING OFFICER'S ACCOUNT IN THE SUM OF $38.45.