A-27598, NOVEMBER 19, 1929, 9 COMP. GEN. 213

A-27598: Nov 19, 1929

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EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION COMMISSION - EXPENSES OF RECOVERING BODY OF DECEASED EMPLOYEE AMOUNTS EXPENDED IN RECOVERING THE BODY OF AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT DROWNED WHILE ON DUTY ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE EITHER AS ITEMS OF TRANSPORTATION OR BURIAL OF THE BODY WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 11 OF THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT OF SEPTEMBER 7. 1929: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MAY 22. FORWARDING WITH REQUEST FOR DECISION WHETHER PAYMENT THEREON IS AUTHORIZED AN ADMINISTRATIVELY APPROVED VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF DENNIS A. WHO WAS ACCIDENTALLY DROWNED APRIL 18. THE VOUCHER IS MADE UP OF THE FOLLOWING ITEMS: CHART ON APRIL 21. - $226.58 THERE WERE CLAIMED. THE CLAIMANT STATED THAT CANCELED CHECK FOR THIS ITEM WAS INCLOSED.

A-27598, NOVEMBER 19, 1929, 9 COMP. GEN. 213

EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION COMMISSION - EXPENSES OF RECOVERING BODY OF DECEASED EMPLOYEE AMOUNTS EXPENDED IN RECOVERING THE BODY OF AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT DROWNED WHILE ON DUTY ARE NOT REIMBURSABLE EITHER AS ITEMS OF TRANSPORTATION OR BURIAL OF THE BODY WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 11 OF THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT OF SEPTEMBER 7, 1916, 39 STAT. 745, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 12, 1927, 44 STAT. 1087.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO E. V. PARKER, CHIEF OF ACCOUNTS, UNITED STATES EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION COMMISSION, NOVEMBER 19, 1929:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MAY 22, 1929, FORWARDING WITH REQUEST FOR DECISION WHETHER PAYMENT THEREON IS AUTHORIZED AN ADMINISTRATIVELY APPROVED VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF DENNIS A. SHEEDY IN THE AMOUNT OF $226.58, COVERING CERTAIN ITEMS OF EXPENSE INCURRED IN RECOVERING AND TRANSPORTING THE BODY OF HIS SON, LEO H. SHEEDY, CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE UNDER THE ENGINEER DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY, WHO WAS ACCIDENTALLY DROWNED APRIL 18, 1928, WHILE EMPLOYED AS A DECK-HAND ON THE STEAMER NAUVOO, KEOKUK, IOWA. THE DROWNING OCCURRED AWAY FROM THE HOME OF THE EMPLOYEE.

THE VOUCHER IS MADE UP OF THE FOLLOWING ITEMS: CHART ON APRIL 21, J. V. MUNSON, FOR SERVICES IN DRAGGING THE RIVER --- $10.50

E MINOR, FOR DRAGGING THE RIVER -------------------- 8.00

APRIL 28, WM. EBENEZER, FOR DRAGGING THE RIVER --------------- 50.00

MAY 1, ELMER EDWARDS, FOR DISTRIBUTING HAND BILLS OFFERING

REWARDS--------------------------------------------- 10.00

MAY 5, HENRY BROWN, FOR ROWING THE CLAIMANT AROUND CERTAIN

ISLANDS LOOKING FOR THE BODY ----------------------- 5.00

MAY 7, O. F. WALLACE, FOR THE USE AND DAMAGES TO A TRAMMEL

NET ------------------------------------------------ 14.80

MAY 11, WM. EBENEZER, FOR DRAGGING THE RIVER ---------------- 20.00

MAY 19, JIM BURNETT, FOR DRAGGING RIVER --------------------- 3.50

MAY 19, WM. TILLEY AS REWARD FOR RECOVERY OF THE BODY ------- 100.00

MAY 19, TWO RAILROAD FARES FROM LOUISIANA, MO. TO EWING, MO.,

FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE BODY ------------------

4.78

TOTAL ----------------------------------------------- $226.58

THERE WERE CLAIMED, ALSO, ADDITIONAL ITEMS, INCLUDING ONE OF $10 PAID TO HENRY ZOPHT FOR DIGGING A GRAVE. THE CLAIMANT STATED THAT CANCELED CHECK FOR THIS ITEM WAS INCLOSED, DATED JUNE 30, 1928, BUT NO SUCH CANCELED CHECK IS WITH THE PAPERS IN THIS OFFICE. THESE ADDITIONAL ITEMS APPARENTLY WERE ADMINISTRATIVELY DISAPPROVED.

THE CLAIM FOR THE ABOVE ITEMS, AGGREGATING $226.58, WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY APPROVED AS INCIDENT TO TRANSPORTATION, UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 11 OF THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 7, 1916, 39 STAT. 745, AS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 12, 1927, 44 STAT. 1087, AS FOLLOWS:

THAT IF DEATH RESULTS FROM THE INJURY WITHIN SIX YEARS THE UNITED STATES SHALL PAY TO THE PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE DECEASED EMPLOYEE FUNERAL AND BURIAL EXPENSES NOT TO EXCEED $200, IN THE DISCRETION OF THE COMMISSION. IN THE CASE OF AN EMPLOYEE WHOSE HOME IS WITHIN THE UNITED STATES, IF HIS DEATH OCCURS AWAY FROM HIS HOME OFFICE OR OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND IF SO DESIRED BY HIS RELATIVES, THE BODY SHALL, IN THE DISCRETION OF THE COMMISSION, BE EMBALMED AND TRANSPORTED IN A HERMETICALLY SEALED CASKET TO THE HOME OF THE EMPLOYEE. * * *

THERE ARE TWO DISTINCT PROVISIONS IN THIS SECTION, THE FIRST AUTHORIZING THE PAYMENT OF FUNERAL AND BURIAL EXPENSES OF NOT TO EXCEED $200; THE SECOND, WHICH IS LIMITED TO PERSONS DYING AWAY FROM HOME OR OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AUTHORIZING THE EMBALMING AND TRANSPORTATION OF THE BODY IN A HERMETICALLY SEALED CASKET TO THE HOME OF THE EMPLOYEE.

IT APPEARS FROM YOUR ACCOUNTS IN THIS OFFICE THAT THERE WAS PAID TO CLAIMANT, AUGUST 16, 1928, PER VOUCHER 52585, CHECK NO. 53348, THE SUM OF $524.50, DESCRIBED AS "BURIAL EXPENSES AND TRANSPORTATION IN THE CASE OF LEO H. SHEEDY. AWAY FROM O.S.' RECEIPTED UNDERTAKER'S BILLS, OTHER SUPPORTING PAPERS, AND EXPLANATORY NOTES INDICATE THAT OF THE ABOVE AMOUNT $350 WAS PAID AS TRANSPORTATION (HERMETICALLY SEALED CASKET FOR TRANSPORTATION PURPOSES), AND THE BALANCE OF $174.50 AS BURIAL EXPENSES, CONSISTING OF CLOTHING, UNDERTAKER'S SERVICES, VAULT, FLOWERS, LINING OF GRAVE, AND MOTOR HEARSE.

THE QUESTION NOW PRESENTED IS WHETHER THE AMOUNTS PAID FOR RECOVERING THE BODY FROM THE RIVER MAY BE REIMBURSED UNDER THE ABOVE-QUOTED STATUTE, EITHER AS INCIDENT TO TRANSPORTATION OR AS INCIDENT TO BURIAL AND FUNERAL EXPENSES. IN DECISION OF JANUARY 15, 1929, A-25523, DENYING CLAIM FOR AMOUNTS EXPENDED FOR DRAGGING THE RIVER IN AN ATTEMPT TO RECOVER THE BODY OF KARL FRANZ, WHO WAS DROWNED BUT WHOSE BODY WAS NOT RECOVERED, IT WAS STATED:

* * * IT MAY NOT ACCURATELY BE SAID THE EXPENSES OF FUNERAL OR BURIAL OR FOR TRANSPORTATION OF THE BODY CAN POSSIBLY ARISE UNLESS AND UNTIL THE BODY IS FOUND. * * *

THE INFERENCE MAY HAVE BEEN DRAWN THAT IF THE BODY WAS RECOVERED AMOUNTS THERETOFORE EXPENDED IN SEARCHING FOR THE BODY MIGHT BE AUTHORIZED. HOWEVER, NO SUCH INFERENCE WAS INTENDED.

EXPENSES OF RECOVERING THE BODY IN THE PRESENT CASE WERE ASSUMED BY THE FATHER OF THE DECEASED, AND UNTIL THE BODY WAS PRODUCED THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE GOVERNMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION OR FUNERAL AND BURIAL EXPENSE COULD NOT ARISE UNDER THE CONTROLLING STATUTES. WHILE IT IS TRUE THAT THE BODY MUST BE RECOVERED BEFORE THE SAME MAY BE TRANSPORTED OR BURIED, THE COST OF RECOVERY WAS NOT IN CONTEMPLATION BY THE CONGRESS WHEN PROVIDING RELIEF FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS FOR TRANSPORTATION AND FUNERAL AND BURIAL EXPENSES. COMPARE APPROPRIATION ACT OF MARCH 5, 1928, 45 STAT. 171, PROVIDING FOR "CARE" OF THE BODY IN ADDITION TO ITEMS OF TRANSPORTATION AND BURIAL.

THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT MAKES A DEFINITE LIMITATION OF $200 FOR FUNERAL AND BURIAL BUT APPARENTLY NO LIMITATION FOR ITEMS OF TRANSPORTATION ACTUALLY EXPENDED, INCLUDING EMBALMING AND HERMETICALLY SEALED CASKET. THERE WOULD BE NO MORE REASON FOR INCLUDING EXPENSES OF RECOVERING THE BODY AS AN ITEM OF TRANSPORTATION THAN THERE WOULD BE TO CONSIDER THE SAME AS AN ITEM OF FUNERAL OR BURIAL SUBJECT TO THE LIMITATIONS OF THE STATUTE. HENCE, PAYMENT OF EXPENSES OF RECOVERING THE BODY UNDER EITHER FUNERAL AND BURIAL EXPENSES OR TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES WOULD BE OF SUCH DOUBTFUL LEGALITY AS NOT TO JUSTIFY AN EXTENSION OF THE STATUTE BY CONSTRUCTION TO COVER SUCH EXPENSES.

YOU ARE ADVISED, THEREFORE, THAT PAYMENT ON THE VOUCHER AS PRESENTED IS NOT AUTHORIZED. THE ITEM OF $4.78 FOR TWO RAILWAY FARES FROM LOUISIANA, MO., TO EWING, MO., FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE BODY MAY BE PAID AS AN ITEM OF TRANSPORTATION.