A-93684, APRIL 19, 1939, 18 COMP. GEN. 799

A-93684: Apr 19, 1939

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DAMAGES - PUBLIC PROPERTY - DISPUTED LIABILITY - SET-OFF OF ACTUAL COST OF REPAIRS AMOUNTS REPRESENTING THE BARE COST OF REPAIRS TO GOVERNMENT TRUCKS DAMAGED BY COLLISION WITH PRIVATE CONVEYANCES ARE PROPERLY FOR SET-OFF BY THE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTING OFFICERS AGAINST AMOUNTS OTHERWISE DUE THE DAMAGING PARTIES NOTWITHSTANDING THE CLAIMANT'S DENIAL OF FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE AND THE CONTENTION THAT THE LEGAL RIGHT OF SET-OFF DOES NOT EXIST AS TO UNLIQUIDATED CLAIMS WHICH HAVE . 1939: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTERS OF DECEMBER 6. WAS DEBITED $30.25 FOR THE COST OF REPAIRS TO GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE MACK TRUCK NO. 22 WHICH WAS DAMAGED TO THAT EXTENT BY BEING RUN INTO BY YOUR ONE-MAN CAR NO. 943 ON OCTOBER 22.

A-93684, APRIL 19, 1939, 18 COMP. GEN. 799

DAMAGES - PUBLIC PROPERTY - DISPUTED LIABILITY - SET-OFF OF ACTUAL COST OF REPAIRS AMOUNTS REPRESENTING THE BARE COST OF REPAIRS TO GOVERNMENT TRUCKS DAMAGED BY COLLISION WITH PRIVATE CONVEYANCES ARE PROPERLY FOR SET-OFF BY THE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTING OFFICERS AGAINST AMOUNTS OTHERWISE DUE THE DAMAGING PARTIES NOTWITHSTANDING THE CLAIMANT'S DENIAL OF FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE AND THE CONTENTION THAT THE LEGAL RIGHT OF SET-OFF DOES NOT EXIST AS TO UNLIQUIDATED CLAIMS WHICH HAVE ,NOT BEEN ADJUDICATED BY A PROPER AND IMPARTIAL TRIBUNAL," THE DETERMINATION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OTHERWISE AS TO THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE DAMAGE BEING WELL SUPPORTED BY THE ESTABLISHED CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THE COLLISIONS OCCURRED, AND THE AMOUNT SET-OFF NOT INVOLVING CONSEQUENTIAL OR UNLIQUIDATED DAMAGES.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO CAPITAL TRANSIT CO., APRIL 19, 1939:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTERS OF DECEMBER 6, 1938, AND FEBRUARY 20, 1939, ACKNOWLEDGED MARCH 9. YOU REQUEST A REVIEW OF SETTLEMENTS BY THIS OFFICE WHEREIN THE CAPITAL TRANSIT CO. OF WASHINGTON, D.C., WAS DEBITED $30.25 FOR THE COST OF REPAIRS TO GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE MACK TRUCK NO. 22 WHICH WAS DAMAGED TO THAT EXTENT BY BEING RUN INTO BY YOUR ONE-MAN CAR NO. 943 ON OCTOBER 22, 1937, AND WHEREIN, ALSO, THERE WAS DEBITED $8.50 TO COVER THE COST OF REPAIRS WHICH WERE NECESSARY UPON GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE TRUCK NO. 19 DUE TO ITS HAVING BEEN HIT BY YOUR CAR NO. 541 ON NOVEMBER 2, 1937. THESE ADJUSTMENTS WERE MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 236 OF THE REVISED STATUTES, AS AMENDED BY SECTION 305 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 10, 1921, 42 STAT. 24. SEE, ALSO, MCKNIGHT V. UNITED STATES, 13 CT.CLS.306, AFFIRMED 98 U.S. 179, WHICH INVOLVED A SETTLEMENT MADE PRIOR TO THE ACT OF MARCH 3, 1875, 18 STAT. 481, 31 U.S.C. 227, TO WHICH REFERENCE IS MADE IN YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 6, 1938.

IT IS UNDERSTOOD TO BE YOUR CONTENTION THAT IN BOTH INSTANCES THE COLLISIONS RESULTING IN THE DAMAGES TO THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE TRUCKS WERE DUE TO THE FAULT AND NEGLIGENCE OF THE DRIVERS OF THE SAID TRUCKS WHO TURNED SUDDENLY INTO THE PATHS OF YOUR STREETCARS WITHOUT SUFFICIENT NOTICE. THE FINDINGS OF FACT MADE BY THE PROPER OFFICIALS OF THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE ARE TO THE CONTRARY AND SEEM WELL SUPPORTED BY THE ESTABLISHED CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THE TWO COLLISIONS OCCURRED. IN THIS SITUATION IT CLEARLY WAS THE DUTY OF THIS OFFICE TO GIVE EFFECT TO THE FINDINGS OF FACT MADE IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE. SEE, IN THIS CONNECTION, LONGWILL V. UNITED STATES, 17 CT.CLS. 288, 291, AND CHARLES V. UNITED STATES, 19 CT.CLS. 316, 319.

ALSO, YOU CONTEND THAT THE UNITED STATES HAS NO LEGAL RIGHT TO SET OFF CLAIMS SUCH AS THESE TWO CLAIMS COVERING THE COST OF REPAIRS TO THE SAID TRUCKS FOR THE REASON THAT CLAIMS OF THIS NATURE ARE UNLIQUIDATED AND HAVE "NOT BEEN ADJUDICATED BY A PROPER AND IMPARTIAL TRIBUNAL.' THIS CONTENTION APPEARS TO OVERLOOK THE FACT THAT ONLY THE BARE COSTS OF REPAIRS MADE NECESSARY AS A RESULT OF THE COLLISIONS HAVE BEEN DEDUCTED IN THE SETTLEMENT OF YOUR ACCOUNT AND NO CONSEQUENTIAL OR UNLIQUIDATED DAMAGES ARE INVOLVED.

UPON A FULL CONSIDERATION OF THE STATEMENT OF FACTS PRESENTED BY YOU AND ON THE STATEMENT OF FACTS PRESENTED BY THE GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, AND HAVING THE PROPER REGARD FOR THE LAW AND THE PRECEDENTS, IT IS DECIDED THAT THE SETTLEMENTS, WHEREIN THE COST OF REPAIRS TO THE TWO DAMAGED TRUCKS WAS DEDUCTED, REPRESENTED THE ACTION THAT THIS OFFICE WAS REQUIRED TO TAKE AND, ACCORDINGLY, THE SAID SETTLEMENTS MUST BE, AND HEREBY ARE, SUSTAINED.