B-127132, JUN. 18, 1956

B-127132: Jun 18, 1956

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

ELIZABETH HOOE GORICKI: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTERS DATED FEBRUARY 15 AND APRIL 13. YOU WERE FOUND "NOT GUILTY" OF HIS MURDER BY A JURY IN A TRIAL IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF ARLINGTON COUNTY. YOUR CLAIMS FOR THE GRATUITY AND THE ARREARS OF PAY WERE SUBMITTED TO OUR CLAIMS DIVISION FOR DETERMINATION AS TO YOUR ENTITLEMENT TO PAYMENT OF SUCH CLAIMS. THERE WAS ALSO ENCLOSED WITH THE LETTER OF DECEMBER 28. BEARING A NOTATION THAT SUCH DEATH WAS NOT DUE TO HIS MISCONDUCT. DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIMS FOR THE REASON THAT IT IS AGAINST PUBLIC POLICY TO PERMIT PAYMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT OF ARREARS OF PAY. IT IS URGED. PAYMENT OF THE SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY IS AUTHORIZED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 4. THE MARINE CORPS OFFICIAL REPORT OF DEATH STATES THAT THE DEATH OF THE DECEDENT WAS NOT DUE TO HIS MISCONDUCT.

B-127132, JUN. 18, 1956

TO MRS. ELIZABETH HOOE GORICKI:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTERS DATED FEBRUARY 15 AND APRIL 13, 1956, WRITTEN ON YOUR BEHALF BY MR. T. BROOKE HOWARD, ATTORNEY, CONCERNING YOUR CLAIMS FOR THE SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY AND ARREARS OF PAY IN THE CASE OF YOUR LATE HUSBAND, FIRST LIEUTENANT EDWARD GORICKI, UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS.

IT APPEARS THAT YOUR HUSBAND DIED ON MAY 22, 1955, IN ARLINGTON COUNTY, VIRGINIA, AS A RESULT OF A GUNSHOT WOUND RECEIVED BY HIM DURING AN ALTERCATION WITH YOU. YOU WERE FOUND "NOT GUILTY" OF HIS MURDER BY A JURY IN A TRIAL IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF ARLINGTON COUNTY, VIRGINIA, IN THE CASE ENTITLED COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA V. ELIZABETH HOOE GORICKI. BY LETTER DATED DECEMBER 28, 1955, FROM HEADQUARTERS, UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS, DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY, YOUR CLAIMS FOR THE GRATUITY AND THE ARREARS OF PAY WERE SUBMITTED TO OUR CLAIMS DIVISION FOR DETERMINATION AS TO YOUR ENTITLEMENT TO PAYMENT OF SUCH CLAIMS. THERE WAS ALSO ENCLOSED WITH THE LETTER OF DECEMBER 28, 1955, AN OFFICIAL MARINE CORPS REPORT OF DEATH OF THE DECEDENT, BEARING A NOTATION THAT SUCH DEATH WAS NOT DUE TO HIS MISCONDUCT.

OUT SETTLEMENT DATED FEBRUARY 3, 1956, DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIMS FOR THE REASON THAT IT IS AGAINST PUBLIC POLICY TO PERMIT PAYMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT OF ARREARS OF PAY, COMPENSATION OR OTHER BENEFITS, TO AN HEIR OR BENEFICIARY WHO FELONIOUSLY KILLS THE PERSON UPON WHOSE DEATH SUCH BENEFITS BECOME DUE, EVEN THOUGH SUCH HEIR OR BENEFICIARY MAY BE FOUND NOT GUILTY IN CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS GROWING OUT OF THE HOMICIDE. IN THE LETTERS OF FEBRUARY 15 AND APRIL 13, 1956, IT IS URGED, IN EFFECT, THAT YOUR CLAIMS BE ALLOWED ON THE BASIS THAT THE VERDICT OF THE JURY ABSOLVED YOU OF ANY FELONIOUS INTENT.

PAYMENT OF THE SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY IS AUTHORIZED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 4, 1920, 41 STAT. 824, AS AMENDED, 34 U.S.C. 943, WHICH PROVIDES THAT IMMEDIATELY UPON OFFICIAL NOTIFICATION OF THE DEATH FROM WOUNDS OR DISEASE, NOT THE RESULT OF HIS OR HER OWN MISCONDUCT, OF ANY OFFICER ON THE ACTIVE LIST OF THE MARINE CORPS THERE SHALL BE PAID TO THE WIDOW AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO SIX MONTHS' PAY AT THE RATE RECEIVED BY SUCH OFFICER AT THE DATE OF DEATH. THE MARINE CORPS OFFICIAL REPORT OF DEATH STATES THAT THE DEATH OF THE DECEDENT WAS NOT DUE TO HIS MISCONDUCT. ALSO, A MARINE CORPS BOARD OF INVESTIGATION, WHICH INVESTIGATED THE MATTER, EXPRESSED THE SAME OPINION AND THE ADDITIONAL OPINION THAT AT THE TIME OF THE SHOOTING THE DECEDENT WAS IN A STATE OF TEMPORARY INSANITY AND NOT MENTALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS ACTIONS. WE HAVE BEEN INFORMED, HOWEVER, THAT THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION, IN CONSIDERING APPLICATIONS FOR BENEFITS PAYABLE BY THAT OFFICE ON ACCOUNT OF THE DEATH OF THE DECEDENT, HAS CONCLUDED THAT THE CAUSE OF DEATH WAS DUE TO THE DECEDENT'S OWN WILLFUL MISCONDUCT AND THAT THE EVIDENCE DID NOT ESTABLISH HIM TO HAVE BEEN OF UNSOUND MIND AT THE TIME HE WAS SHOT.

IN VIEW OF THE CONFLICTING OPINIONS RENDERED BY THOSE AGENCIES ON THE QUESTION WHETHER DEATH WAS DUE TO THE DECEDENT'S OWN MISCONDUCT, THE MATTER ADMITS OF TOO MUCH DOUBT TO JUSTIFY PAYMENT OF THE SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY ON THE PRESENT RECORD. SEE LONGWILL V. UNITED STATES, 17 C.CLS. 288, 291; CHARLES V. UNITED STATES, 19 C.CLS. 316, 319. ACCORDINGLY, THAT PART OF THE SETTLEMENT OF FEBRUARY 3, 1956, DISALLOWING YOUR CLAIM FOR SUCH GRATUITY IS SUSTAINED.

RESPECTING YOUR CLAIM FOR THE ARREARS OF PAY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS FOR AMOUNTS DUE DECEASED PERSONNEL OF THE MARINE CORPS IS GOVERNED BY THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 25, 1946, 60 STAT. 30, WHICH PROVIDES THAT, IN THE ABSENCE OF A CLAIM FROM A DULY APPOINTED LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF THE DECEDENT, THE WIDOW IS THE PREFERRED HEIR WITHOUT OTHER QUALIFICATIONS. ACCORDINGLY, NO DEMAND HAVING BEEN RECEIVED FROM A DULY APPOINTED LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF THE DECEDENT FOR SUCH ARREARS OF PAY, SETTLEMENT FOR THE AMOUNT OF PAY AND ALLOWANCES FOUND TO BE DUE WILL ISSUE IN YOUR FAVOR IN DUE COURSE.