B-123024, JUN. 23, 1955

B-123024: Jun 23, 1955

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INC.: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 27. THE AMOUNT CLAIMED WAS PAID. THAT THE VOUCHER WAS SUPPORTED BY A FORM DESIGNATED "CUMULATIVE CLAIM AND RECONCILIATION. THE FINAL PAYMENT VOUCHER WAS FURTHER SUPPORTED BY "FINAL PAYMENT RELEASE. 016.42 WAS PAID ON FEBRUARY 11. IT HAS BEEN HELD NUMEROUS TIMES BY THE COURTS AND THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT THAT THE EXECUTION OF A RELEASE OF THE NATURE OF THE ONE HERE INVOLVED PRECLUDES A CONTRACTOR FROM THEREAFTER PRESENTING ANY CLAIM ARISING OUT OF THE CONTRACT EXCEPT SUCH CLAIMS AS MAY HAVE BEEN SPECIFICALLY EXCEPTED FROM THE OPERATION THEREOF. WHILE A RELEASE MAY BE IMPEACHED ON THE GROUND THAT IT WAS PROCURED BY FRAUD.

B-123024, JUN. 23, 1955

TO BAYSHORE INDUSTRIES, INC.:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 27, 1955, REQUESTING REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT DATED JANUARY 24, 1955, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR $1,876.20, REPRESENTING THE BALANCE ALLEGED TO BE DUE FOR SERVICES RENDERED THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY UNDER CONTRACT NO. DA18 108-CML-3160, DATED FEBRUARY 11, 1952, AS AMENDED.

THE CITED CONTRACT, COVERING RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT SERVICES, AS DESCRIBED THEREIN, PROVIDED FOR THE REIMBURSEMENT OF COSTS INCURRED NOT TO EXCEED, AS AMENDED, THE SUM OF $32,750.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT IN THE COURSE OF PERFORMANCE OF THE CONTRACT YOU PRESENTED INVOICES IN THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF $31,808.70; THAT, EXCEPT FOR THE SUM OF $4,892.62 SUSPENDED OR DISALLOWED, THE AMOUNT CLAIMED WAS PAID; THAT, BASED ON AN ADMINISTRATIVE REAUDIT OF THE AMOUNT WITHHELD, YOU PREPARED AND SUBMITTED A FINAL PAYMENT VOUCHER, CERTIFIED AS "CORRECT AND JUST" IN THE AMOUNT OF $3,016.42; THAT THE VOUCHER WAS SUPPORTED BY A FORM DESIGNATED "CUMULATIVE CLAIM AND RECONCILIATION," EXECUTED BY THE COMPTROLLER OF YOUR FIRM, STATING THAT YOU CONCURRED IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE DISALLOWANCES IN THE AGGREGATE AMOUNT OF $1,876.20 AND REDUCING THE TOTAL AMOUNT CLAIMED FOR PERFORMANCE OF THE CONTRACT TO $29,932.50 ($31,808.70 LESS $1,876.20); AND THAT, AS REQUIRED BY ARTICLE 24 (A) OF THE "GENERAL PROVISIONS" OF THE CONTRACT, THE FINAL PAYMENT VOUCHER WAS FURTHER SUPPORTED BY "FINAL PAYMENT RELEASE," LIKEWISE EXECUTED BY YOUR COMPTROLLER, WHEREIN YOU AGREED TO ACCEPT, WITHOUT EXCEPTIONS, THE SUM CLAIMED ON THAT VOUCHER ($3,016.42) IN FULL, COMPLETE, AND FINAL SETTLEMENT AND THAT THE AMOUNT CLAIMED ON THE VOUCHER, TOGETHER WITH PRIOR PAYMENTS MADE, WOULD CONSTITUTE COMPENSATION IN FULL FOR ALL WORK PERFORMED UNDER THE CONTRACT. THIS VOUCHER IN THE SUM OF $3,016.42 WAS PAID ON FEBRUARY 11, 1954.

IN YOUR REQUEST FOR REVIEW OF THE SETTLEMENT DISALLOWING YOUR CLAIM, YOU APPEAR TO RECOGNIZE THAT THE RELEASE AND THE PAYMENT MADE BY THE GOVERNMENT ON THE BASIS THEREOF LEGALLY PRECLUDE THE PAYMENT OF ANY FURTHER AMOUNT. YOU REQUEST RECONSIDERATION, HOWEVER, ON THE BASIS OF AN ALLEGED MISUNDERSTANDING BETWEEN YOU AND THE ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY. SUCH MISUNDERSTANDING APPEARS TO BE BASED ON YOUR ALLEGED EXECUTION OF THE "CUMULATIVE CLAIM AND RECONCILIATION" FORM WITHOUT READING IT AND, AS TO THE EXECUTION OF OF THE "FINAL PAYMENT RELEASE," A FAILURE TO RECALL THE SIGNING THEREOF.

AS TO THE EFFECT OF THE AFOREMENTIONED "FINAL PAYMENT RELEASE" ON YOUR CLAIM, IT HAS BEEN HELD NUMEROUS TIMES BY THE COURTS AND THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT THAT THE EXECUTION OF A RELEASE OF THE NATURE OF THE ONE HERE INVOLVED PRECLUDES A CONTRACTOR FROM THEREAFTER PRESENTING ANY CLAIM ARISING OUT OF THE CONTRACT EXCEPT SUCH CLAIMS AS MAY HAVE BEEN SPECIFICALLY EXCEPTED FROM THE OPERATION THEREOF. AS STATED BY THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES IN UNITED STATES V. WILLIAM CRAMP AND SONS COMPANY, 206 U.S. 118, THE RELEASE DOES NOT PURPORT TO BE A PART-WAY MEASURE BUT RATHER "INDICATES A PURPOSE TO MAKE AN ENDING OF EVERY MATTER ARISING UNDER OR BY VIRTUE OF THE CONTRACT.' SEE, ALSO, THE CASES CITED IN 23 COMP. GEN. 632. MOREOVER, WHILE A RELEASE MAY BE IMPEACHED ON THE GROUND THAT IT WAS PROCURED BY FRAUD, DURESS, OR IMPOSITION AMOUNTING TO FRAUD, CARELESSNESS IN ITS EXECUTION MAY NOT BE REGARDED AS ANY JUSTIFICATION FOR SETTING IT ASIDE. SEE WESTERN MARYLAND DAIRY CORPORATION V. BROWN, 181 A. 468 AND WILLETT V. HERRICK, 155 N.E. 589, CERTIORARI DENIED 275 U.S. 545.

ACCORDINGLY, IN VIEW OF THE LEGAL EFFECT OF THE UNQUALIFIED EXECUTION OF THE "CUMULATIVE CLAIM AND RECONCILIATION" AS WELL AS THE "FINAL PAYMENT RELEASE," THE SETTLEMENT OF JANUARY 24, 1955, DISALLOWING YOUR CLAIM FOR AN ADDITIONAL AMOUNT ALLEGED TO BE DUE, IS SUSTAINED.

CONCERNING YOUR REQUEST FOR PERMISSION TO TAKE THE ENTIRE MATTER UP WITH THE INSPECTOR GENERAL'S OFFICE, WHILE THERE IS NO OBJECTION THERETO, THE ACTION OF THIS OFFICE ON CLAIMS AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT IS FINAL AND CONCLUSIVE ON ALL DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES OF THE GOVERNMENT. HOWEVER, WITH RESPECT TO THE INFORMATION REQUESTED AS TO ANY OTHER AVAILABLE "AVENUE OF APPROACH," YOU ARE ADVISED THAT, INDEPENDENTLY OF THE ACTION OF THIS OFFICE, THE COURT OF CLAIMS OF THE UNITED STATES HAS JURISDICTION TO CONSIDER AND DETERMINE CERTAIN CLAIMS AGAINST THE UNITED STATES. U.S.C. 1491.