A-57813, OCTOBER 18, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 324

A-57813: Oct 18, 1934

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WERE NOT INTENDED AS A MEANS TO REVIVE CLAIMS BARRED BY A STATUTORY OR A REGULATORY LIMITATION. WHO WAS KILLED IN THE MILITARY SERVICE IN NICARAGUA ON APRIL 12. THE BODY WAS SHIPPED TO THE UNITED STATES AND BURIED ON DECEMBER 12. CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED AS A RESULT OF THE BURIAL WAS MADE BY THE UNDERTAKER AND RECEIVED BY THIS ADMINISTRATION ON JANUARY 8. THE CLAIM WAS DENIED ON MARCH 2. IT IS OBVIOUS THAT NEITHER PROVISION CONTEMPLATES THE REINTERMENT OF THE BODY OF A DECEASED VETERAN RETURNED TO THIS COUNTRY FROM OVERSEAS. THE MATTER IS INVITED TO YOUR ATTENTION ON THE QUESTION OF WHETHER THE CLAIM "CONTAINS SUCH ELEMENTS OF LEGAL LIABILITY OR EQUITY AS TO BE DESERVING OF THE CONSIDERATION OF THE CONGRESS.

A-57813, OCTOBER 18, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 324

CLAIMS - ACT OF APRIL 10, 1928, 45 STAT. 413 - LIMITATIONS THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF APRIL 10, 1928, 45 STAT. 413, VESTING IN THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES CERTAIN DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES IN CONNECTION WITH CERTIFICATION TO THE CONGRESS OF CLAIMS HAVING ELEMENTS OF LEGAL LIABILITY OR EQUITY, WERE NOT INTENDED AS A MEANS TO REVIVE CLAIMS BARRED BY A STATUTORY OR A REGULATORY LIMITATION.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE ADMINISTRATOR OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS, OCTOBER 18, 1934.

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 20, 1934, AS FOLLOWS:

PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF APRIL 10, 1928 (45 STAT. 413, 31 U.S.C. SEC. 236) I DESIRE TO SUBMIT TO YOU THE CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF BURIAL EXPENSES IN THE SUM OF $26 IN THE CASE OF FINIS H. WHITEHEAD, XC- 847 597, AN HONORABLY DISCHARGED VETERAN OF THE WORLD WAR, WHO WAS KILLED IN THE MILITARY SERVICE IN NICARAGUA ON APRIL 12, 1932.

THE BODY WAS SHIPPED TO THE UNITED STATES AND BURIED ON DECEMBER 12, 1933. CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED AS A RESULT OF THE BURIAL WAS MADE BY THE UNDERTAKER AND RECEIVED BY THIS ADMINISTRATION ON JANUARY 8, 1934. THE CLAIM WAS DENIED ON MARCH 2, 1934.

VETERANS REGULATION NO. 9 (A), (EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 6158 PROMULGATED JUNE 6, 1933), PROVIDES:

"IV. CLAIMS FOR REIMBURSEMENT MUST BE FILED WITHIN ONE YEAR SUBSEQUENT TO THE DATE OF DEATH OF THE VETERAN. * * *"

PARAGRAPH 2 OF SECTION 20, PUBLIC NO. 78, 73D CONGRESS (INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACT, 1934, APPROVED JUNE 16, 1933) PROVIDES IN PART THAT:

"* * * WHERE A VETERAN DIED PRIOR TO MARCH 20, 1933, UNDER CONDITIONS WHICH WARRANT THE PAYMENT OF, OR REIMBURSEMENT FOR, BURIAL EXPENSES, SUCH PAYMENT OR REIMBURSEMENT MAY BE MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAWS IN EFFECT PRIOR TO MARCH 20, 1933, PROVIDED THAT CLAIM FOR SUCH PAYMENT OR REIMBURSEMENT MUST BE FILED WITHIN THREE MONTHS FROM THE DATE OF PASSAGE OF THIS ACT.'

THOSE TIME LIMITATIONS PROHIBIT THE PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM PRESENTED IN THIS CASE, BUT IT IS OBVIOUS THAT NEITHER PROVISION CONTEMPLATES THE REINTERMENT OF THE BODY OF A DECEASED VETERAN RETURNED TO THIS COUNTRY FROM OVERSEAS. THE MATTER IS INVITED TO YOUR ATTENTION ON THE QUESTION OF WHETHER THE CLAIM "CONTAINS SUCH ELEMENTS OF LEGAL LIABILITY OR EQUITY AS TO BE DESERVING OF THE CONSIDERATION OF THE CONGRESS," WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT OF APRIL 10, 1928, SUPRA.'

APPARENTLY THE ONLY BASIS FOR INVOKING THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF APRIL 10, 1928, 45 STAT. 413, IS THE FACT THE CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF BURIAL EXPENSES IS BARRED BY STATUTORY AND REGULATORY TIME LIMITATIONS ON THE FILING OF CLAIMS.

WHERE A TIME LIMIT ON FILING CLAIMS IS FIXED BY LAW OR BY A REGULATION PROPER FOR PROMULGATION IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF A LAW, IT IS TO BE ASSUMED, AS TO THE FIRST, THAT THE CONGRESS HAD REASON FOR ITS ACTION AND EXPECTS OBSERVANCE THEREOF, AND, AS TO THE SECOND, THAT IT HAS OPERATED UPON SIMILAR CLAIMS AND IT WOULD BE UNFAIR TO MAKE EXCEPTIONS--- AND ESPECIALLY, RETROACTIVELY EFFECTIVE. THE ACT OF APRIL 10, 1928, SUPRA, WAS NOT INTENDED FOR EMPLOYMENT AS A MEANS TO REVIVE CLAIMS BARRED BY A STATUTORY OR REGULATORY LIMITATION.

YOU ARE ADVISED, THEREFORE, THAT THERE IS NOT DISCLOSED "SUCH ELEMENTS OF LEGAL LIABILITY OR EQUITY" AS WOULD JUSTIFY THIS OFFICE IN PRESENTING THE CLAIM FOR THE CONSIDERATION OF THE CONGRESS UNDER AUTHORITY OF THE ACT OF APRIL 10, 1928, SUPRA. ..END :