A-90641, A-90714, A-90716, DECEMBER 14, 1937, 17 COMP. GEN. 499

A-90641,A-90714,A-90716: Dec 14, 1937

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DOES NOT AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT WHERE HOUSEHOLD GOODS OF OFFICERS RESIDING IN PRIVATE RESIDENCES IN A CIVILIAN COMMUNITY ARE LOST IN A COMMON CATASTROPHE AFFECTING ALIKE ALL RESIDENTS IN THE SAME VICINITY. 1937: THERE HAVE BEEN RECEIVED YOUR REQUESTS FOR DECISIONS WHETHER PAYMENT IS AUTHORIZED ON THREE VOUCHERS. IT APPEARS THESE OFFICERS WERE ASSIGNED TO DUTY AT JEFFERSONVILLE QUARTERMASTER DEPOT. AT WHICH PLACE THEY WERE NOT ASSIGNED PUBLIC QUARTERS BUT WERE PAID RENTAL ALLOWANCE AND PROVIDED THEIR OWN QUARTERS AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE. THE PERSONAL HOUSEHOLD GOODS ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN LOST OR DAMAGED WERE BEING USED BY THESE OFFICERS IN THEIR PRIVATE RESIDENCES WHEN FLOODWATERS AROSE IN THE VICINITY OF SUCH RESIDENCES TO A MAXIMUM OF APPROXIMATELY 15 FEET AND COMPLETELY INUNDATED THE EFFECTS LEFT ON THE FIRST FLOOR AND BASEMENT OF THESE HOUSES.

A-90641, A-90714, A-90716, DECEMBER 14, 1937, 17 COMP. GEN. 499

PROPERTY - PRIVATE - LOST OR DESTROYED - MILITARY SERVICE - PROPERTY LOST IN PRIVATE RESIDENCES IN COMMON CATASTROPHE THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, 41 STAT. 1436, PROVIDING FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR CERTAIN PRIVATE PROPERTY LOST, DAMAGED, OR DESTROYED IN THE MILITARY SERVICE, DOES NOT AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT WHERE HOUSEHOLD GOODS OF OFFICERS RESIDING IN PRIVATE RESIDENCES IN A CIVILIAN COMMUNITY ARE LOST IN A COMMON CATASTROPHE AFFECTING ALIKE ALL RESIDENTS IN THE SAME VICINITY, SUCH LOSS NOT BEING "IN THE MILITARY SERVICE.'

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO LT.COL. E. C. MORTON, UNITED STATES ARMY, DECEMBER 14, 1937:

THERE HAVE BEEN RECEIVED YOUR REQUESTS FOR DECISIONS WHETHER PAYMENT IS AUTHORIZED ON THREE VOUCHERS, ONE STATED IN FAVOR OF CAPT. CHARLES D. MCCALL, QUARTERMASTER RESERVE, UNITED STATES ARMY, IN THE AMOUNT OF $568.60; ONE STATED IN FAVOR OF CAPT. FRANZ J. JONITZ, QUARTERMASTER CORPS, UNITED STATES ARMY, IN THE AMOUNT OF $618.50; AND ONE STATED IN FAVOR OF CAPT. L. M. SHIELDS, QUARTERMASTER CORPS, UNITED STATES ARMY, IN THE AMOUNT OF $508.60, COVERING THEIR CLAIMS FOR THE LOSS OR DAMAGES TO THEIR HOUSEHOLD GOODS, BY FLOODWATERS OF THE OHIO RIVER, JANUARY 21 TO 31, 1937, IN PRIVATE HOMES, LOCATED AT 411 FULTON STREET, 723 EAST MAPLE STREET, AND 420 MECHANIC STREET, RESPECTIVELY, IN JEFFERSONVILLE, IND.

IT APPEARS THESE OFFICERS WERE ASSIGNED TO DUTY AT JEFFERSONVILLE QUARTERMASTER DEPOT, AT WHICH PLACE THEY WERE NOT ASSIGNED PUBLIC QUARTERS BUT WERE PAID RENTAL ALLOWANCE AND PROVIDED THEIR OWN QUARTERS AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE, AT PLACES OF THEIR OWN SELECTION. THE PERSONAL HOUSEHOLD GOODS ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN LOST OR DAMAGED WERE BEING USED BY THESE OFFICERS IN THEIR PRIVATE RESIDENCES WHEN FLOODWATERS AROSE IN THE VICINITY OF SUCH RESIDENCES TO A MAXIMUM OF APPROXIMATELY 15 FEET AND COMPLETELY INUNDATED THE EFFECTS LEFT ON THE FIRST FLOOR AND BASEMENT OF THESE HOUSES. THE OFFICERS CLAIM THAT THEY WERE ON DUTY UNDER ORDERS DURING THE ENTIRE PERIOD OF THE FLOOD AT JEFFERSONVILLE QUARTERMASTER DEPOT FOR THE PURPOSE OF SAVING HUMAN LIFE AND PROPERTY BELONGING TO THE UNITED STATES.

THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, 41 STAT. 1436, INSOFAR AS IS HERE MATERIAL, PROVIDES:

THAT PRIVATE PROPERTY BELONGING TO OFFICERS * * * INCLUDING ALL PRESCRIBED ARTICLES OF EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING WHICH THEY ARE REQUIRED BY LAW OR REGULATION TO OWN AND USE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR DUTIES * * * WHICH * * * SHALL HEREAFTER BE LOST, DAMAGED, OR DESTROYED IN THE MILITARY SERVICE, SHALL BE REPLACED, OR THE DAMAGE THERETO, OR ITS VALUE RECOUPED TO THE OWNER AS HEREINAFTER PROVIDED, WHEN SUCH LOSS, DAMAGE, OR DESTRUCTION HAS OCCURRED OR SHALL HEREAFTER OCCUR WITHOUT FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE OWNER IN ANY OF THE FOLLOWING CIRCUMSTANCES:

SECOND, WHEN IT APPEARS THAT SUCH PRIVATE PROPERTY WAS SO LOST, DAMAGED, OR DESTROYED IN CONSEQUENCE OF ITS OWNER HAVING GIVEN HIS ATTENTION TO THE SAVING OF HUMAN LIFE OR PROPERTY BELONGING TO THE UNITED STATES WHICH WAS IN DANGER AT THE SAME TIME AND UNDER SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES, OR WHILE, AT THE TIME OF SUCH LOSS, DAMAGE, OR DESTRUCTION, THE CLAIMANT WAS ENGAGED IN AUTHORIZED MILITARY DUTIES IN CONNECTION THEREWITH.

SEC. 2. THAT EXCEPT AS TO SUCH PROPERTY AS BY LAW OR REGULATION IS REQUIRED TO BE POSSESSED AND USED BY OFFICERS * * * THE LIABILITY OF THE GOVERNMENT UNDER THIS ACT SHALL BE LIMITED TO DAMAGE TO OR LOSS OF * * * ARTICLES OF PERSONAL PROPERTY AS THE SECRETARY OF WAR SHALL DECIDE OR DECLARE TO BE REASONABLE, USEFUL, NECESSARY, AND PROPER FOR OFFICERS * * * TO HAVE IN THEIR POSSESSION WHILE IN QUARTERS, OR IN THE FIELD, ENGAGED IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE IN THE LINE OF DUTY.

MERELY BECAUSE THE OFFICER IS IN THE MILITARY SERVICE DOES NOT IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES BRING THE LOSS, DAMAGE, OR DESTRUCTION OF HIS HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS OR PERSONAL PROPERTY WITHIN THE ACT. THE ACT LIMITS REIMBURSEMENT TO PROPERTY OTHERWISE WITHIN THE ACT WHICH IS LOST, DAMAGED, OR DESTROYED IN THE MILITARY SERVICE. IF THE HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS OF AN OFFICER ARE LOST, DAMAGED, OR DESTROYED WHILE THEY ARE USED BY HIM AT A MILITARY POST, CAMP, OR STATION, UNDOUBTEDLY TO THE EXTENT OTHERWISE WITHIN THE ACT THE PROPERTY WOULD BE LOST, DAMAGED, OR DESTROYED IN THE MILITARY SERVICE. BUT THE PROPERTY IN THESE CASES WAS IN PRIVATE RESIDENCES, SELECTED BY THE OFFICERS, AND WAS NOT THEREFORE LOST OR DESTROYED IN THE MILITARY SERVICE. UNDER THE CITED ACT THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT THE INSURER OF THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS OF AN OFFICER IN ANY AND ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, AND WHERE THE OFFICER IS RESIDING IN A CIVILIAN COMMUNITY AND THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS ARE LOST IN A COMMON CATASTROPHE AFFECTING ALL RESIDENTS ALIKE, IN THE SAME VICINITY, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY TO REIMBURSE THE OWNER FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS AS FOR A LOSS OR DESTRUCTION OF HIS GOODS IN THE MILITARY SERVICE. ACCORDINGLY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE LOSS IN THESE CASES IS NOT WITHIN THE PROVISIONS OF THE STATUTE, AND PAYMENT IS NOT AUTHORIZED ON THE VOUCHERS RETURNED HEREWITH.