B-131375, JUN. 3, 1957

B-131375: Jun 3, 1957

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YOUR BARN CAUGHT FIRE AND TOGETHER WITH ITS CONTENTS WAS DESTROYED. 778 WAS THE ACTUAL VALUE OF THE CONTENTS OF THE BARN DESTROYED BY FIRE. DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE CONTENTS OF THE BARN WERE VALUED BY YOU AT $1. THE LATTER SUM IS ITEMIZED AS FOLLOWS: TABLE 1800 LBS. FILED IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR CLAIM YOU STATED "THERE WERE 30 OR 40 TROOPS THAT HELPED ME PUT OUT THE FIRE.'. YOUR CLAIM WAS INVESTIGATED BY THE ARMY WHICH RECOMMENDED ITS DISALLOWANCE ON THE GROUND THAT THE EVIDENCE FAILED TO ESTABLISH THAT THE FIRE RESULTED FROM THE ACTION OF GOVERNMENT TROOPS OR OTHER GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL. THAT THE AMOUNTS CLAIMED WERE QUESTIONABLE AND THAT YOUR STATEMENT THAT 30 OR 40 TROOPS HELPED IN PUTTING OUT THE FIRE WAS REFUTED BY WITNESSES TO THE FIRE WHO STATED THAT THERE WERE NO SOLDIERS AT THE FIRE.

B-131375, JUN. 3, 1957

TO MR. FRANCIS C. JORDAN:

THIS REFERS TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 20, 1957, CONCERNING OUR SETTLEMENT DATED MARCH 14, 1957, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR DESTRUCTION OF YOUR BARN AND ITS CONTENTS BY FIRE ON DECEMBER 6, 1955, ALLEGEDLY CAUSED BY THE NEGLIGENCE OR CARELESSNESS OF SOLDIERS ENGAGED IN SAGE BRUSH.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT YOU GRANTED TO THE GOVERNMENT A RIGHT TO USE YOUR LAND FOR MANEUVERS AND FIELD EXERCISE BY THE ARMY UNDER AN AGREEMENT WHEREBY IT PROMISED TO REPAIR, REPLACE AND RESTORE THE PREMISES TO THE CONDITION AT THE TIME OF THE AGREEMENT OR MAKE A CASH SETTLEMENT IN LIEU THEREOF IN THE EVENT OF THEIR BEING DAMAGED AS THE RESULT OF THE GOVERNMENT'S EXERCISE OF THE PRIVILEGES GRANTED. ON DECEMBER 6, 1955, AT APPROXIMATELY 10 A.M., YOUR BARN CAUGHT FIRE AND TOGETHER WITH ITS CONTENTS WAS DESTROYED. YOU MADE CLAIM TO THE CONTINENTAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK, WHICH HAD INSURED THE BARN FOR $1,000 AND ITS CONTENTS FOR A LIKE AMOUNT, INDICATING THAT YOU BELIEVED THE FIRE HAD OCCURRED BY REASON OF THE NEGLIGENCE OF SOLDIERS WHO HAD BEEN ON MANEUVERS IN THE AREA. IN PRESENTING THE CLAIM TO THE INSURANCE COMPANY, YOU EXECUTED A SWORN PROOF OF LOSS STATEMENT THAT $1,778 WAS THE ACTUAL VALUE OF THE CONTENTS OF THE BARN DESTROYED BY FIRE. AN INVESTIGATION BY THE INSURANCE COMPANY FAILED TO REVEAL ANY EVIDENCE THAT SOLDIERS OR OTHER GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE FIRE AND THE INSURANCE COMPANY PAID YOU $1000 FOR THE LOSS OF THE BARN PLUS $1,000 FOR ITS CONTENTS.

DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE CONTENTS OF THE BARN WERE VALUED BY YOU AT $1,778 IN THE INSURANCE CLAIM, THAT THE INVESTIGATION BY THE INSURANCE COMPANY REVEALED NO GOVERNMENT CONNECTION WITH THE FIRE,AND THAT YOU ALREADY RECEIVED $1,000 FOR LOSS OF THE BARN'S CONTENTS FROM THE PROCEEDS OF THE INSURANCE YOU MADE CLAIM AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $6,885 FOR LOSS OF THE BARN AND CONTENTS LESS THE $2,000 INSURANCE AND LATER FOR $4,260 FOR THE LOSS OF THE BARN'S CONTENTS. THE LATTER SUM IS ITEMIZED AS FOLLOWS:

TABLE

1800 LBS. OF OATS AT $ .75 PER LB. $1,350

1000 LBS. OF PEAS, OATS AND HAY AT $ .50 500

9000 LBS. HOME-GROWN PEAS AT $ .24 2,160

2 SADDLES, $125 EACH 250

$4,260

IN A STATEMENT DATED FEBRUARY 27, 1956, FILED IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR CLAIM YOU STATED "THERE WERE 30 OR 40 TROOPS THAT HELPED ME PUT OUT THE FIRE.' YOUR CLAIM WAS INVESTIGATED BY THE ARMY WHICH RECOMMENDED ITS DISALLOWANCE ON THE GROUND THAT THE EVIDENCE FAILED TO ESTABLISH THAT THE FIRE RESULTED FROM THE ACTION OF GOVERNMENT TROOPS OR OTHER GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL, THAT THE AMOUNTS CLAIMED WERE QUESTIONABLE AND THAT YOUR STATEMENT THAT 30 OR 40 TROOPS HELPED IN PUTTING OUT THE FIRE WAS REFUTED BY WITNESSES TO THE FIRE WHO STATED THAT THERE WERE NO SOLDIERS AT THE FIRE. IT WAS REPORTED ALSO THAT THERE WERE NO SOLDIERS KNOWN TO BE IN THE VICINITY OF YOUR BARN WITHIN A 24-HOUR PERIOD PRIOR TO THE TIME THE FIRE STARTED AND THAT ALL SOLDIERS LEFT THE VICINITY OF PITKIN ON THE MORNING OF DECEMBER 5, 1955. THE CLAIM WAS ACCORDINGLY DISALLOWED.

IN REQUESTING REVIEW, YOU REPORTED THAT TROOPS MOVED OUT OF PITKIN ON DECEMBER 7 AND 8, 1955. WE HAVE OBTAINED ADDITIONAL REPORTS FROM THE GULF, COLORADO AND SANTA FE RAILROAD AND THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, SOUTHWESTERN DIVISION SUBSTANTIATING YOUR CONTENTION THAT ALL ARMY PERSONNEL HAD NOT LEFT PITKIN, LOUISIANA UNTIL DECEMBER 7 AND 8, 1955. IS REPORTED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY, HOWEVER, THAT NOTWITHSTANDING STATEMENTS OF MESSRS. CALEB PERKINS AND V. STARVIS TO THE CONTRARY, A COMPLETE INVESTIGATION BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY HAS FAILED TO DISCLOSE THE PRESENCE OF ANY SOLDIER AT OR NEAR YOUR BARN AFTER DECEMBER 4, 1955.

YOUR RIGHT TO RESTORATION OR A CASH SETTLEMENT UNDER THE LEASE IS NECESSARILY DEPENDENT UPON IT BEING ESTABLISHED THAT THE DAMAGE WAS CAUSED BY GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL IN THE EXERCISE OF PRIVILEGES GRANTED TO USE YOUR LAND FOR MANEUVERS. WHILE THE PREVIOUS REPORT THAT ARMY PERSONNEL HAD LEFT PITKIN, LOUISIANA PRIOR TO THE DATE OF THE FIRE WAS ERRONEOUS, THE RECORD DOES NOT ESTABLISH THAT THE FIRE WAS CAUSED BY GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL. THUS, THE LIABILITY OF THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT ESTABLISHED. MOREOVER, THE DAMAGES ALLEGED APPEAR EXCESSIVE; AND, YOUR STATEMENT IN CONNECTION WITH A MATERIAL MATTER, AS TO THE PRESENCE OF SOLDIERS (HELPING TO EXTINGUISH IT) AT THE TIME OF THE FIRE APPEARS TO BE REFUTED BY EYEWITNESSES. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, THERE APPEARS NO AUTHORITY FOR ALLOWANCE OF THE CLAIM AND THE ACTION TAKEN IN DISALLOWING IT IS SUSTAINED.

ENCLOSED ARE THE REQUESTED COPIES OF THE WITNESSES STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY YOU IN SUPPORT OF THE CLAIM.