B-162545 October 10, 1967

B-162545: Oct 10, 1967

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

Conable: This is in reply to your letter of September 20. Kitanik as an amount "for which he was not fully compensated in the case of John Kitanik v. On account of injuries alleged to have been received in an automobile accident. The Government admitted responsibility in the accident and only the damage issue was tried by the court. The decision of the court was affirmed on appeal. Adverse reports were received on the bill from the Department of Justice and the Department of the Air Force. The primary reason given in each report for reaching an adverse conclusion was that Mr. Kitanik had his day in court where all the facts were duly considered. The Federal Government is not liable for torts committed in its service by its officers and employees unless it consents to such liability.

B-162545 October 10, 1967

The Honorable Barber B. Conable, Jr. House of Representatives

Dear Mr. Conable:

This is in reply to your letter of September 20, 1967, transmitting your file on H.R. 8240, a bill for the relief of John Kitanik, and requesting our advice as to whether any relief can be provided. The bill proposes the payment of $13,599.53 to Mr. Kitanik as an amount "for which he was not fully compensated in the case of John Kitanik v. United States (Civil Action No. 60-C-584, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York).

Mr. Kitanik brought suit against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act of 1946, 28 U.S.C. 2671-2680, on account of injuries alleged to have been received in an automobile accident. The Government admitted responsibility in the accident and only the damage issue was tried by the court. The decision of the court was affirmed on appeal. As noted in your letter, adverse reports were received on the bill from the Department of Justice and the Department of the Air Force. The primary reason given in each report for reaching an adverse conclusion was that Mr. Kitanik had his day in court where all the facts were duly considered.

Under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, the Federal Government is not liable for torts committed in its service by its officers and employees unless it consents to such liability. Such consent has been given in regard to certain tort claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Under the provisions of that act effective during the period of the subject suit and appeal, the head of each Federal agency was given exclusive authority to consider and settle claims for money damages of $2,500 or less. Exclusive jurisdiction of civil sections on claims for money damages over that amount was vested in the Federal district courts. (See 28 U.S.C. 1346(b) ). Since the subject claim was based on tort and in an amount in excess of $2,500, only the court had settlement jurisdiction. Our Office therefore has no jurisdiction with respect to settlement of the claim. This factor also precludes our Office from considering the claim as one for reporting to Congress under 31 U.S.C. 236 as a meritorious claim, since such authority extends only to such claims as are properly within our statutory claims settlement jurisdiction.

With respect to H.R. 8240, section 131 of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, 60 Stat. 812, 2 U.S.C. 190g, provides that:

"No private bill or resolution (including so-called omnibus claims or pension bills), and no amendment to any bill or resolution, authorizing or directing (1) the payment of money for property damages, for personal injuries or death for which suit may be instituted under the Federal Tort Claims Act, or for a pension (other than to carry out a provision of law or treaty stipulation); (2) the construction of a bridge across a navigable stream; or (3) the correction of a military or naval record, shall be received or considered in either the Senate or the House of Representatives."

In view of the foregoing, no basis is perceived for giving further consideration to the claim of Mr. Kitanik. Your file is returned as requested.

Sincerely yours,

FRANK H. WEITZEL Assistant Comptroller General of the United States

Enclosure