B-109273, SEPTEMBER 30, 1952, 32 COMP. GEN. 153

B-109273: Sep 30, 1952

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THE ACT DOES NOT APPLY TO ARTICLES WHICH ARE NOT DECLARED SPECIFICALLY TO BE VALUABLES BY THE SECRETARY UNDER THE ACT. THE GOVERNMENT MAY RECOVER FROM A CARRIER THE EXCESS VALUATION DECLARED ON ARTICLES BY AN AGENCY AT THE TIME OF SHIPMENT AND FOR WHICH AN ADDITIONAL CHARGE WAS MADE. 1952: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTERS OF NOVEMBER 20. 264.95 WAS WITHHELD AND APPLIED IN LIQUIDATION OF YOUR INDEBTEDNESS TO THE UNITED STATES RESULTING FROM THE LOSS IN TRANSIT OF A SELECTROSLIDE. THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE REFERRED-TO ARTICLES WERE PART OF A SHIPMENT CONSISTING OF FOUR BOXES ACCEPTED ON NOVEMBER 16. UPON RECEIPT OF THE GOODS BY YOU THERE WAS ISSUED. SUCH FACT WAS CONFIRMED BY YOUR GENERAL AUDITOR.

B-109273, SEPTEMBER 30, 1952, 32 COMP. GEN. 153

GOVERNMENT LOSSES IN SHIPMENT ACT - VALUABLES - STATUS OF COMMODITY SHIPPED - SECRETARY OF TREASURY DETERMINATION REQUIREMENT WHILE THE GOVERNMENT LOSSES IN SHIPMENT ACT, AS AMENDED, PROHIBITS THE EXPENDITURE OF PUBLIC FUNDS FOR THE PAYMENT OF PREMIUMS ON INSURANCE AGAINST LOSS OF, OR DAMAGE TO, ARTICLES DECLARED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY TO BE VALUABLES, THE ACT DOES NOT APPLY TO ARTICLES WHICH ARE NOT DECLARED SPECIFICALLY TO BE VALUABLES BY THE SECRETARY UNDER THE ACT, AND THEREFORE, THE GOVERNMENT MAY RECOVER FROM A CARRIER THE EXCESS VALUATION DECLARED ON ARTICLES BY AN AGENCY AT THE TIME OF SHIPMENT AND FOR WHICH AN ADDITIONAL CHARGE WAS MADE.

ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER GENERAL YATES TO THE RAILWAY EXPRESS AGENCY, SEPTEMBER 30, 1952:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTERS OF NOVEMBER 20, 1951, AND JANUARY 15, 1952, PROTESTING THE ACTION TAKEN BY THE TRANSPORTATION DIVISION OF THIS OFFICE IN CERTIFICATES NOS. T-526152 AND T-526153, WHEREIN THE SUM OF $1,264.95 WAS WITHHELD AND APPLIED IN LIQUIDATION OF YOUR INDEBTEDNESS TO THE UNITED STATES RESULTING FROM THE LOSS IN TRANSIT OF A SELECTROSLIDE, TAPE RECORDING MACHINE, AND A SET OF COLORED SLIDES, SHIPPED ON NOVEMBER 6, 1949, BY THE FEDERAL SECURITY AGENCY VIA RAILWAY EXPRESS AGENCY FROM SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, TO WASHINGTON, D.C.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE REFERRED-TO ARTICLES WERE PART OF A SHIPMENT CONSISTING OF FOUR BOXES ACCEPTED ON NOVEMBER 16, 1949, BY YOUR AGENT AT SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, CONSIGNED TO THE FEDERAL SECURITY AGENCY, WASHINGTON, D.C. APPARENTLY, UPON RECEIPT OF THE GOODS BY YOU THERE WAS ISSUED, IN LIEU OF A BILL OF LADING, YOUR FORM 1083," RECORD OF GOVERNMENT SHIPMENT," IDENTIFIED AS DELIVERY SHEET NO. 195450, AND THE SAID FORM SHOWS A DECLARED VALUATION PLACED ON THE GOODS OF $1,500, WITH EXCESS VALUE CHARGES OF $1.43. SUCH FACT WAS CONFIRMED BY YOUR GENERAL AUDITOR, IN LETTER OF OCTOBER 5, 1951, TO THE UNITED STATES TREASURY DEPARTMENT. YOU CONTEND THAT YOUR LIABILITY IS LIMITED TO FIFTY CENTS PER POUND, AS SPECIFIED IN THE TARIFF, FOR THE REASON THAT THE BILL OF LADING INVOLVED IN THE SHIPMENT FAILED TO DECLARE A VALUATION ON THE GOODS, AND YOU URGE, ALSO, THAT THE REFERRED-TO FORM WAS MERELY A MEMORANDUM OF DELIVERY TO YOUR AGENT AND NOT A CONTRACT OF CARRIAGE BETWEEN THE CARRIER AND SHIPPER.

IT IS TRUE THAT THE BILL OF LADING INVOLVED IN THE CASE, NO. SAV 344, DOES NOT SHOW ANY DECLARED VALUATION FOR THE ARTICLES, AND THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE HAS REPORTED THAT SUCH ENTRIES ON THE BILL OF LADING WERE INADVERTENTLY OMITTED WHEN THE DOCUMENT WAS EXECUTED. HOWEVER, THE MATERIAL FACT THAT THE SAID BILL OF LADING WAS NOT RELEASED TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVE UNTIL JANUARY 30, 1950 (SEE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE LETTER OF MARCH 29, 1950, TO THE AGENCY'S CLAIM AGENT), OR UNTIL PARTIAL DELIVERY OF THE GOODS ORIGINALLY TENDERED FOR SHIPMENT HAD BEEN ACCOMPLISHED, BUT A RECEIPT OF " RECORD OF GOVERNMENT SHIPMENT" APPARENTLY WAS ISSUED AT THE TIME OF MOVEMENT WHICH SHOWED ON ITS FACE THAT THE SHIPPER HAD PLACED THE AGENT ON NOTICE THAT THE GOODS WERE VALUED AT $1,500, AND THE AGENT INSERTED ON THE FORM AN ADDITIONAL CHARGE OF $1.43 TO COVER THE EXCESS VALUE.

YOU SUGGEST THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE ARTICLES IN QUESTION HAVE BEEN DECLARED TO BE VALUABLES BY THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, UNDER THE ACT OF JULY 8, 1937, ENTITLED GOVERNMENT LOSSES IN SHIPMENT ACT, 50 STAT. 479, AS AMENDED, AND URGE THAT, IF SUCH BE A FACT, NO GOVERNMENT AGENCY COULD OBLIGATE THE UNITED STATES TO PAY THE EXCESS VALUE CHARGES, NOR COULD THE EXPRESS AGENCY LEGALLY COLLECT SUCH CHARGES AND, THEREFORE, THE SHIPMENT MOVED WITHOUT A DECLARED VALUE, LIMITING YOUR LIABILITY TO FIFTY CENTS PER POUND. SECTION 4 OF THE SAID ACT PROHIBITS THE EXPENDITURE OF PUBLIC MONIES FOR THE PAYMENT OF PREMIUMS ON INSURANCE AGAINST LOSS OF, OR DAMAGE TO, ARTICLES DECLARED BY THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY TO BE VALUABLES WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT. PURSUANT TO THE STATUTE, THERE WERE DECLARED TO BE VALUABLES THE FOLLOWING FOUR GENERAL CLASSES: (1) MONEY; (2) SECURITIES AND OTHER DOCUMENTS; (3) PRECIOUS METALS AND STONES; AND (4) CERTAIN WORKS AND COLLECTIONS OF ARTISTIC, HISTORICAL, SCIENTIFIC OR EDUCATIONAL VALUE. SEE 21 COMP. GEN. 928. CLEARLY, ANYTHING NOT SIMILAR TO THE FOREGOING CLASSES AND NOT OTHERWISE DECLARED SPECIFICALLY TO BE A VALUABLE IS NOT A VALUABLE WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE GOVERNMENT LOSSES IN SHIPMENT ACT.

ACCORDINGLY, YOUR CLAIM FOR REFUND OF THE AMOUNTS HERETOFORE WITHHELD TO COVER THE VALUE OF THE ITEMS MUST BE DENIED.