A-62604, SEPTEMBER 23, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 241

A-62604: Sep 23, 1935

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POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT - REGISTERED MAIL DELIVERED TO A MINOR - INDEMNITY PAYMENT OF INDEMNITY FOR LOSS ARISING OUT OF AN ALLEGED IMPROPER DELIVERY OF A REGISTERED LETTER IS NOT AUTHORIZED WHERE DELIVERY OF THE LETTER WAS MADE TO A MINOR ACTING AS AGENT FOR THE ADDRESSEE AT THE OFFICE ADDRESS GIVEN TO THE WRITER OF THE REGISTERED LETTER. OF WHICH OFFICE THE MINOR WAS IN CHARGE AT TIME OF DELIVERY. THE CLAIM WAS CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT ON NOVEMBER 12. WAS DISALLOWED BY THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT DIVISION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE. APPARENTLY THE BASIS OF THE ACTION TAKEN BY THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT DIVISION WAS THE CONCLUSION REACHED BY A POST OFFICE INSPECTOR THAT AN IMPROPER DELIVERY HAD NOT BEEN MADE.

A-62604, SEPTEMBER 23, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 241

POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT - REGISTERED MAIL DELIVERED TO A MINOR - INDEMNITY PAYMENT OF INDEMNITY FOR LOSS ARISING OUT OF AN ALLEGED IMPROPER DELIVERY OF A REGISTERED LETTER IS NOT AUTHORIZED WHERE DELIVERY OF THE LETTER WAS MADE TO A MINOR ACTING AS AGENT FOR THE ADDRESSEE AT THE OFFICE ADDRESS GIVEN TO THE WRITER OF THE REGISTERED LETTER, OF WHICH OFFICE THE MINOR WAS IN CHARGE AT TIME OF DELIVERY, HAVING BEEN EMPLOYED BY THE ALLEGED HUSBAND OF THE ADDRESSEE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, SEPTEMBER 23, 1935:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR UNDATED LETTER RECEIVED IN THIS OFFICE JUNE 5, 1935, AS FOLLOWS:

THIS DEPARTMENT CERTIFIED TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE FOR PAYMENT THE CLAIM OF MRS. L. E. EDMONDSON, 600 B STREET SE., WASHINGTON, D.C., IN THE AMOUNT OF $25.00, ARISING OUT OF THE WRONG DELIVERY OF A REGISTERED LETTER ADDRESSED TO MRS. EDMONDSON AND MAILED BY L. E. EDMONDSON, AT OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA, ON MAY 15, 1934. IT APPEARED THAT THE DELIVERING EMPLOYEE TURNED THIS REGISTERED MAIL OVER TO RUBY SPRINKLE, A SEVENTEEN- YEAR-OLD GIRL WHO HAD BEEN LEFT IN CHARGE OF THE OFFICE AT 600 B STREET DURING THE ABSENCE OF THEODORE SIFFORD, A FORMER HUSBAND OF THE ADDRESSEE WHO CONDUCTED A TRUCKING BUSINESS AT THAT ADDRESS.

THE CLAIM WAS CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT ON NOVEMBER 12, 1934, BUT WAS DISALLOWED BY THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT DIVISION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE. APPARENTLY THE BASIS OF THE ACTION TAKEN BY THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT DIVISION WAS THE CONCLUSION REACHED BY A POST OFFICE INSPECTOR THAT AN IMPROPER DELIVERY HAD NOT BEEN MADE. HOWEVER, THE DEPARTMENT HAD REJECTED THE CONCLUSION OF THE INSPECTOR AND HAD ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT A WRONG DELIVERY HAD BEEN MADE. THE LAW AUTHORIZING THE PAYMENT OF INDEMNITY FOR DOMESTIC REGISTERED MATTER IS CONTAINED IN 39 U.S.C. 381 (A), SUPPLEMENT V, AND DIRECTS THAT THE POSTMASTER GENERAL MAY PROVIDE RULES UNDER WHICH THE SENDERS OR OWNERS OF ANY REGISTERED MATTER SHALL BE INDEMNIFIED FOR LOSS, RIFLING OR DAMAGE THEREOF IN THE MAIL. IN PURSUANCE OF THIS AUTHORITY, SECTION 1323 OF THE POSTAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS WAS PROMULGATED--- ONE OF ITS PROVISIONS BEING THAT NO REGISTERED MAIL ADDRESSED TO ANOTHER MAY BE DELIVERED TO A MINOR UNLESS AUTHORIZED IN WRITING BY THE ADDRESSEE (SECTION 1323, PARAGRAPH (F)

THE AUTHORITY OF THE POSTMASTER GENERAL TO MAKE REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE DELIVERY OF REGISTERED MAIL AS WELL AS REGULATIONS UNDER WHICH INDEMNITY SHALL BE PAID IS RECOGNIZED BY THE COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY IN A DECISION DATED APRIL 1, 1909, IN CASE 282257-R AND BY YOU IN A DECISION DATED AUGUST 7, 1933, IN CASE 6224-A.

THE REQUEST IS ACCORDINGLY MADE THAT THE ACTION OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT DIVISION IN DISALLOWING THIS CLAIM BE RECONSIDERED AND THAT PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM BE AUTHORIZED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DEPARTMENT'S CERTIFICATION OF NOVEMBER 12, 1934.

SECTION 1323 OF THE POSTAL LAW AND REGULATIONS, 1932, DESIGNATING THE MANNER IN WHICH AND THE PERSONS TO WHOM REGISTERED MAIL MAY PROPERLY BE DELIVERED, IN PARAGRAPH (E) PROVIDES, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

IN THE ABSENCE OF KNOWLEDGE TO THE CONTRARY, THE FOLLOWING SHOULD BE REGARDED AS RESPONSIBLE PERSONS WITHIN THE MEANING OF PARAGRAPH 1 (D) OF THIS SECTION: * * * HIS EMPLOYEES IN A CLERICAL OR ADVISORY CAPACITY; * *

PARAGRAPH (F) OF THE SAME SECTION PROVIDES, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

NO MAIL ADDRESSED TO OTHERS SHALL BE DELIVERED TO THE FOLLOWING PERSONS UNLESS THEY ARE AUTHORIZED IN WRITING BY THE ADDRESSEE TO RECEIVE IT: MINORS; * * *

THERE APPEARS NO DISAGREEMENT AS TO THE FACTS IN THE CASE, NAMELY, THAT THE REGISTERED LETTER INVOLVED WAS DELIVERED TO "AN EMPLOYEE IN A CLERICAL OR SUPERVISORY CAPACITY" AT THE ADDRESS TO WHICH THE LETTER WAS SENT AND THAT SUCH EMPLOYEE WAS A MINOR. ON THESE FACTS, THE INSPECTOR WHO INVESTIGATED THE CASE CONCLUDED THAT PROPER DELIVERY WAS MADE WHILE YOU HAVE CONCLUDED THAT DELIVERY WAS IMPROPERLY MADE. IT HAS LONG BEEN THE RULE OF THIS OFFICE TO ACCEPT THE REPORT OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE AS TO QUESTIONS OF FACT IN THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE SUFFICIENT TO OVERCOME THE PRESUMPTION OF THE CORRECTNESS THEREOF. 3 COMP. GEN. 51 AND CASES CITED THEREIN. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, HOWEVER, ARE RESERVED FOR THE DECISION IN THE FIRST INSTANCE OF THIS OFFICE. A-48031, SEPTEMBER 20, 1933. THE CONCLUSION OF THE INSPECTOR THAT PROPER DELIVERY WAS MADE, AS WELL AS THE CONCLUSION OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT THAT PROPER DELIVERY WAS NOT MADE, ARE CONCLUSIONS OF LAW BASED ON THE FACTS AND THE REGULATIONS ABOVE CITED.

THE PERSON WHO RECEIVED THE REGISTERED LETTER AND EXECUTED THE RETURN RECEIPT THEREFOR WAS AN EMPLOYEE IN A CLERICAL CAPACITY IN CHARGE OF THE OFFICE AT THE ADDRESS TO WHICH THE LETTER WAS SENT, WITH APPARENT AUTHORITY TO TRANSACT THE USUAL DUTIES PERFORMED BY SUCH EMPLOYEE. THE EMPLOYEE STATED THAT THE ADDRESSEE OF THE LETTER, WHO WAS POSING AS THE WIFE OF THE OWNER OF THE BUSINESS AT THE ADDRESS TO WHICH THE LETTER WAS SENT AND WHO WAS, IN FACT, THE DIVORCED WIFE OF SUCH OWNER,"WANTED ME TO SIGN FOR THE LETTER AND DELIVER IT TO HER WHEN SHE RETURNED TO THE TY.' ALSO, THAT THE ADDRESSEE TOLD SAID PERSON EMPLOYED IN A CLERICAL CAPACITY AT THE PLACE OF BUSINESS THAT THE ADDRESSEE "WAS EXPECTING A REGISTERED LETTER AND SAID IT WOULD BE ADDRESSED TO ,MRS. EDMONDSON; " THAT SHE WANTED ME TO SIGN FOR THE LETTER AND DELIVER IT TO HER WHEN SHE RETURNED TO THE CITY, BUT NOT LET HER HUSBAND "SIFFORD" SEE IT.' THIS AUTHORITY TO RECEIPT FOR THE LETTER AND NOT TO DIVULGE THE FACT TO MR. SIFFORD IS NOT SPECIFICALLY DENIED BY THE ADDRESSEE, WHO STATED IN REGARD TO THE PARTICULAR PHASE OF THE CASE THAT "WHILE I DID NOT AUTHORIZE RUBY SPRINKLE TO RECEIVE MY REGISTERED MAIL, I DID NOT GIVE ANY INSTRUCTION FOR HER NOT TO RECEIVE IT.' THE ADDRESSEE FURTHER STATED THAT "SO FAR AS I KNOW RUBY SPRINKLE DID NOT KNOW MY NAME WAS EDMONDSON.' IT IS NOT TO BE OVERLOOKED THAT THE ADDRESSEE MUST HAVE GIVEN THE ADDRESS IN QUESTION TO THE WRITER OF THE REGISTERED LETTER.

IT DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE QUESTIONED, HOWEVER, THAT RUBY SPRINKLE WHEN RECEIVING THE LETTER KNEW THAT IT WAS INTENDED FOR THE ADDRESSEE, SUPPOSEDLY KNOWN TO RUBY SPRINKLE ONLY AS MRS. SIFFORD, AND THIS FACT LENDS SUPPORT TO THE CLAIMED INSTRUCTIONS OF RUBY SPRINKLE THAT SHE WAS TO RECEIPT FOR THE LETTER AND DELIVER IT TO THE ADDRESSEE, AND IT IS NOT TO BE OVERLOOKED THAT THE TERMS OF POSTAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS QUOTED ABOVE ARE INSTRUCTIONS TO EMPLOYEES OF THE POSTAL SERVICE AND DO NOT CREATE A CONTRACT BETWEEN THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT OR SOME OFFICIAL THEREOF AND ANY PERSON TO WHOM A REGISTERED PACKAGE OR LETTER MAY BE ADDRESSED.

IN VIEW OF THE FACTS OF RECORD, THE CONCLUSION APPEARS REASONABLY CLEAR THAT RUBY SPRINKLE, A MINOR, WAS EMPLOYED IN A CLERICAL CAPACITY BY THE ALLEGED HUSBAND OF THE ADDRESSEE OF THE INVOLVED LETTER AND WAS IN CHARGE OF THE OFFICE TO WHICH THE LETTER WAS ADDRESSED AT THE TIME IT WAS DELIVERED THERE AND THAT IN RECEIVING AND RECEIPTING FOR THE LETTER RUBY SPRINKLE WAS ACTING IN THE CAPACITY OF AGENT OF THE ADDRESSEE. IT IS GENERALLY RECOGNIZED THAT AN INFANT MAY ACT AS AN AGENT, SUCH INFANT'S CAPACITY TO SO ACT BEING LIMITED ONLY BY THE AUTHORITY ENTRUSTED BY THE PRINCIPAL AND THE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL CAPACITY OF THE INFANT TO CARRY OUT THE INSTRUCTIONS. SUCH AGENCY MAY BE CREATED BY PAROL AND THE ACTS OF THE INFANT ACTING AS AN AGENT ARE BINDING UPON THE PRINCIPAL. SEE 31 C.J. PAGE 1002, SECTION 27.

UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES IT APPEARS THE PROVISIONS OF THE POSTAL LAWSAND REGULATIONS, SECTION 1323, PARAGRAPH (F), SUPRA, ARE NOT FOR APPLICATION IN THE INSTANT CASE. RATHER, THE CASE FALLS WITHIN THE PROVISIONS OF PARAGRAPH (E) OF THAT SECTION. ACCORDINGLY, IT MUST BE HELD THAT DELIVERY OF THE LETTER TO AN EMPLOYEE OF THE HUSBAND OF THE ADDRESSEE IN CHARGE OF HIS OFFICE, ACTING AS THE AGENT OF THE ADDRESSEE, WAS A PROPER DELIVERY. IT FOLLOWS THAT THE DISALLOWANCE OF THE CLAIM MUST BE AND IS SUSTAINED.