B-146669, OCT. 31, 1961

B-146669: Oct 31, 1961

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MURPHY: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR COMMUNICATION OF AUGUST 1. WHILE YOU WERE ON ACTIVE DUTY AND OCCUPYING GOVERNMENT QUARTERS AT RARITAN ARSENAL. AN EMPLOYEE OF A GOVERNMENT CONTRACTOR WHO WAS PAINTING SUCH QUARTERS FELL FROM A SCAFFOLD AND WAS INJURED. THAT ORIGINALLY YOU WERE REPRESENTED IN COURT BY AN ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY BUT LATER YOU WERE REQUIRED TO SECURE AN ATTORNEY TO REPRESENT YOUR INTERESTS BECAUSE OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT THE INTERESTS OF THE DEFENDANTS WERE IN CONFLICT. THAT PLAINTIFF'S APPEAL WAS DISMISSED IN FAVOR OF THE DEFENDANTS ON JUNE 20. WHO AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT WERE PERFORMING YOUR OFFICIAL DUTIES IN YOUR ASSIGNED OFFICE. THIS CLAIM WOULD NOT BE NECESSARY AND THAT UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES THE ACTION REQUESTING YOU TO SUBSTITUTE ATTORNEYS WAS IN EFFECT A REDUCTION IN PAY BY THE AMOUNT OF COSTS INCURRED.

B-146669, OCT. 31, 1961

TO COLONEL CLARENCE J. MURPHY:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR COMMUNICATION OF AUGUST 1, 1961, REQUESTING THAT WE REPORT YOUR CLAIM TOTALING $2,198.64 FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF ATTORNEY'S FEES AND EXPENSES TO CONGRESS AS A MERITORIOUS CLAIM UNDER 31 U.S.C. 236.

IT APPEARS FROM YOUR COMMUNICATION THAT ON JUNE 14, 1957, WHILE YOU WERE ON ACTIVE DUTY AND OCCUPYING GOVERNMENT QUARTERS AT RARITAN ARSENAL, METUCHEN, NEW JERSEY, AN EMPLOYEE OF A GOVERNMENT CONTRACTOR WHO WAS PAINTING SUCH QUARTERS FELL FROM A SCAFFOLD AND WAS INJURED; THAT SUCH EMPLOYEE BROUGHT SUIT FOR THE INJURIES (PRESUMABLY ON THE GROUNDS OF NEGLIGENCE) AND JOINED YOU AND THE UNITED STATES AS DEFENDANTS; THAT ORIGINALLY YOU WERE REPRESENTED IN COURT BY AN ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY BUT LATER YOU WERE REQUIRED TO SECURE AN ATTORNEY TO REPRESENT YOUR INTERESTS BECAUSE OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT THE INTERESTS OF THE DEFENDANTS WERE IN CONFLICT; AND THAT PLAINTIFF'S APPEAL WAS DISMISSED IN FAVOR OF THE DEFENDANTS ON JUNE 20, 1960.

YOU SAY THAT IF THE GOVERNMENT HAD NOT CHANGED ITS ACTION IN DEFENDING YOU, WHO AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT WERE PERFORMING YOUR OFFICIAL DUTIES IN YOUR ASSIGNED OFFICE, WITH NO NEGLIGENCE ON EITHER YOUR PART OR ON YOUR WIFE'S PART BEING FOUND, THIS CLAIM WOULD NOT BE NECESSARY AND THAT UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES THE ACTION REQUESTING YOU TO SUBSTITUTE ATTORNEYS WAS IN EFFECT A REDUCTION IN PAY BY THE AMOUNT OF COSTS INCURRED.

THERE ARE NO STATUTES WHICH SPECIFICALLY IMPOSE UPON THE UNITED STATES A LEGAL OBLIGATION TO DEFEND SUITS SUCH AS YOURS OR MAKE IT LIABLE FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED IN DEFENDING SUCH SUITS. FURTHERMORE, WE MAY ONLY CONSIDER SUCH CLAIMS UNDER 31 U.S.C. 236 AS ARE PROPERLY WITHIN OUR STATUTORY CLAIMS SETTLEMENT JURISDICTION BUT WHICH MAY NOT BE PAID BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF STATUTORY LAW AUTHORIZING PAYMENT THEREOF OR APPROPRIATIONS AVAILABLE THEREFOR. CLAIMS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED IN DEFENDING SUITS ARISING OUT OF ALLEGATIONS OF NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF GOVERNMENT OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES HAVE BEEN HELD NOT TO FALL WITHIN THE CLASS OF CLAIMS COMPREHENDED BY 31 U.S.C. 236.

ACCORDINGLY, WE MAY NOT REPORT THE MATTER TO CONGRESS AS A MERITORIOUS CLAIM.