B-153947, JUN. 1, 1964

B-153947: Jun 1, 1964

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CONOVER: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 27. YOU WERE AUTHORIZED TRAVEL FROM THE UNITED STATES TO ADDIS ABABA AND SHIPMENT OF AN AUTOMOBILE FROM TEHRAN. IT WAS THEN EN ROUTE FROM THE MANUFACTURER IN HAMBURG. THE ORIGINAL BILL OF LADING WAS DATED SEPTEMBER 23. THE DEALER ARRANGED TO HAVE THE BILL OF LADING CHANGED TO SHOW CONSIGNMENT OF THE AUTOMOBILE TO YOU IN CARE OF SEFERIAN AND CO. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE INDICATING EXACTLY WHEN OR WHERE THE ORIGINAL BILL OF LADING WAS CHANGED TO SHOW YOU AS CONSIGNEE. IT APPEARS THAT SUCH CHANGE MAY HAVE BEEN ACCOMPLISHED SOMETIME PRIOR TO THE DATE YOUR AUTOMOBILE WAS FORWARDED BY RAIL FROM THE PORT OF DJIBOUTI TO ADDIS ABABA. SINCE THE ORIGINAL BILL OF LADING WAS CHANGED TO SHOW YOU AS CONSIGNEE YOU CONTEND THAT TITLE TO THE AUTOMOBILE VESTED IN YOU SOMETIME BETWEEN OCTOBER 18.

B-153947, JUN. 1, 1964

TO MR. SHERMAN H. CONOVER:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 27, 1964, REQUESTING REVIEW OF OUR OFFICE SETTLEMENT DATED JUNE 24, 1963, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF THE INLAND FREIGHT AND HANDLING CHARGES ON A NEW VOLKSWAGEN SHIPPED FROM HAMBURG, GERMANY, TO ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, WHILE AN EMPLOYEE OF THE AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, DEPARTMENT OF STATE.

THE RECORD DISCLOSES THAT BY TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION DATED SEPTEMBER 16, 1961, YOU WERE AUTHORIZED TRAVEL FROM THE UNITED STATES TO ADDIS ABABA AND SHIPMENT OF AN AUTOMOBILE FROM TEHRAN, IRAN, YOUR PREVIOUS POST OF ASSIGNMENT, TO ADDIS ABABA. YOU ARRIVED AT YOUR NEW POST ON OCTOBER 10, 1961, AND ON OCTOBER 18, 1961, YOU PLACED AN ORDER FOR A NEW VOLKSWAGEN WITH SEFERIAN AND CO., THE LOCAL VOLKSWAGEN DEALER IN ADDIS ABABA. YOU SAY THAT AT THE TIME YOU ORDERED YOUR VOLKSWAGEN, IT WAS THEN EN ROUTE FROM THE MANUFACTURER IN HAMBURG, GERMANY. THE ORIGINAL BILL OF LADING WAS DATED SEPTEMBER 23, 1961. HOWEVER, UPON YOUR REQUEST, THE DEALER ARRANGED TO HAVE THE BILL OF LADING CHANGED TO SHOW CONSIGNMENT OF THE AUTOMOBILE TO YOU IN CARE OF SEFERIAN AND CO. AS YOUR AGENT. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE INDICATING EXACTLY WHEN OR WHERE THE ORIGINAL BILL OF LADING WAS CHANGED TO SHOW YOU AS CONSIGNEE. HOWEVER, IT APPEARS THAT SUCH CHANGE MAY HAVE BEEN ACCOMPLISHED SOMETIME PRIOR TO THE DATE YOUR AUTOMOBILE WAS FORWARDED BY RAIL FROM THE PORT OF DJIBOUTI TO ADDIS ABABA.

SINCE THE ORIGINAL BILL OF LADING WAS CHANGED TO SHOW YOU AS CONSIGNEE YOU CONTEND THAT TITLE TO THE AUTOMOBILE VESTED IN YOU SOMETIME BETWEEN OCTOBER 18, 1961, THE DATE YOU ORDERED THE CAR, AND OCTOBER 31, 1961, THE DATE THE CAR ARRIVED IN DJIBOUTI. ACCORDINGLY, YOU CLAIM REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE INLAND FREIGHT AND HANDLING CHARGES BETWEEN DJIBOUTI AND ADDIS ABABA. THE CLAIMS DIVISION OF OUR OFFICE DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM ON THE GROUND THAT THE FREIGHT CHARGES FOR WHICH YOU CLAIMED REIMBURSEMENT CONSTITUTED A PART OF THE PURCHASE PRICE OF THE VEHICLE AND SINCE OWNERSHIP OF THE VEHICLE APPEARED TO BE VESTED IN THE DEALER AT TIME OF SHIPMENT, NO AUTHORITY EXISTED FOR PAYMENT OF THE FREIGHT CHARGES. ALSO, THERE EXISTED A QUESTION WHETHER YOU WERE AUTHORIZED TO SHIP A FOREIGN MADE CAR AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE AT THE TIME YOU PURCHASED YOUR CAR.

AS TO THIS LATTER QUESTION, WE HAVE BEEN ADVISED BY OFFICIALS OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE OPERATIONS MEMORANDUM OF OCTOBER 13, 1961, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO THE EMBASSY IN ADDIS ABABA, WAS APPLICABLE TO AID EMPLOYEES STATIONED IN ETHIOPIA. THIS MEMORANDUM AUTHORIZED THE SHIPMENT OF CERTAIN FOREIGN MADE VEHICLES, INCLUDING VOLKSWAGENS, AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE TO AND FROM ETHIOPIA ON OFFICIAL TRAVEL ORDERS. ACCORDINGLY, THE AUTHORITY FOR SHIPMENT OF YOUR VOLKSWAGEN TO ETHIOPIA IS NO LONGER AT ISSUE.

IT IS A RULE OF LONG STANDING THAT ONLY THOSE TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES INCURRED AFTER ACQUISITION OF TITLE BY AN EMPLOYEE TO AN AUTOMOBILE PURCHASED EN ROUTE TO OR WITHIN THE PRESCRIBED TIME AFTER ARRIVAL AT A NEW POST ARE PAYABLE BY THE GOVERNMENT, 10 COMP. GEN. 268. THE QUESTION OF WHEN TITLE PASSES UNDER A PURCHASE AND SALE AGREEMENT IS LARGELY DEPENDENT UPON THE TERMS OF THE AGREEMENT. YOUR CONTENTION THAT OWNERSHIP OF THE VEHICLE WAS VESTED IN YOU AS OF THE TIME THE TRANSPORTATION CHARGES IN QUESTION WERE INCURRED IS BASED PRIMARILY ON THE FACT THAT THE AUTOMOBILE HAD BEEN CONSIGNED TO YOU. WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THE EVIDENCE OF RECORD IS SUFFICIENT TO SUPPORT YOUR CONTENTION. THE FACT THAT THE BILL OF LADING WAS ALTERED AT SOMETIME EN ROUTE TO SHOW YOU AS THE CONSIGNEE IS NOT CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE THAT OWNERSHIP OF A SPECIFIC AUTOMOBILE BECAME VESTED IN YOU AT THAT TIME.

PARAGRAPH IV, SUBPARAGRAPH B OF INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION ADMINISTRATION MANUAL, ORDER NO. 562.1, DATED JUNE 6, 1961, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"EVIDENCE OF OWNERSHIP

"ACCEPTABLE EVIDENCE OF OWNERSHIP IS AN INVOICE OR BILL OF SALE IDENTIFYING THE AUTOMOBILE BY MOTOR AND/OR BODY NUMBER, OR DELIVERY OF THE AUTOMOBILE TO A CARRIER FOR SHIPMENT ON A GOVERNMENT BILL OF LADING.'

ASIDE FROM THE ALTERED BILL OF LADING, YOU HAVE FAILED TO SUBMIT A BILL OF SALE, INVOICE, OR ANY OTHER EVIDENCE CONTAINING APPROPRIATE IDENTIFYING INFORMATION SUCH AS MANUFACTURER'S NUMBER WHICH WOULD CLEARLY ESTABLISH THE PLACE AND TIME AT WHICH TITLE TO A SPECIFIC AUTOMOBILE PASSED TO YOU. IN VIEW THEREOF, THE DISALLOWANCE OF YOUR CLAIM MUST BE SUSTAINED.