B-163125, FEB. 12, 1968

B-163125: Feb 12, 1968

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

TO EMPLOYEE FOR LOSS OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS DESTROYED BY FIRE IN WAREHOUSE WHICH EMPLOYEE WAS ASSIGNED OVERSEAS. SINCE UNDER 31 U.S.C. 240-242 SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS BY ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE FOR LOSS OF PERSONAL PROPERTY IS FINAL AND CONCLUSIVE. VOUCHERS PRESENTED TO GAO ARE NOT SUBJECT TO PRE-AUDIT. AN EMPLOYEE'S FAILURE TO INSURE HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS WHILE IN STORAGE DOES NOT HAVE ANY EFFECT ON HIS CLAIM FOR LOSS. DONOVAN WAS ON AN OVERSEAS ASSIGNMENT AS AN OFFICER OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. CAN THE LIBRARY ACCEPT SCARSDALE VAN AND STORAGE COMPANY'S STATEMENT THAT IT IS NOT FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE? "2. DONOVAN TO INSURE HIS GOODS WHILE IN THE WAREHOUSE HAVE ANY EFFECT ON HIS CLAIM? IF THE CLAIM IS SUBSTANTIATED AND THE POSSESSION OF THAT PROPERTY IS DETERMINED TO BE REASONABLE.

B-163125, FEB. 12, 1968

STORAGE - HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS - PUBLIC LAW 88-558 DECISION TO LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CONCERNING PROPRIETY OF PAYMENT UNDER P.L. 88-558, TO EMPLOYEE FOR LOSS OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS DESTROYED BY FIRE IN WAREHOUSE WHICH EMPLOYEE WAS ASSIGNED OVERSEAS. SINCE UNDER 31 U.S.C. 240-242 SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS BY ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE FOR LOSS OF PERSONAL PROPERTY IS FINAL AND CONCLUSIVE, VOUCHERS PRESENTED TO GAO ARE NOT SUBJECT TO PRE-AUDIT. A WAREHOUSEMAN HAS A RESPONSIBILITY FOR REASONABLE CARE AND DILIGENCE AND IF EVIDENCE SHOWS A LACK OF CARE ON THE PART OF THE STORAGE COMPANY COLLECTION OF AMOUNT REPRESENTING LOSS SHOULD BE MADE REGARDLESS OF DISCLAIMER OF FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. AN EMPLOYEE'S FAILURE TO INSURE HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS WHILE IN STORAGE DOES NOT HAVE ANY EFFECT ON HIS CLAIM FOR LOSS.

TO QUINCY:

YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 15, 1967, SUBMITS A VOUCHER FOR PRE-AUDIT PAYABLE TO MR. DAVID G. DONOVAN IN THE AMOUNT OF $4,900. YOU SAY THE AMOUNT HAS BEEN ADMINISTRATIVELY FOUND DUE MR. DONOVAN UNDER PUBLIC LAW 88-558 AND YOUR REGULATIONS, LCR 2025-6, DATED MAY 31, 1967, ISSUED PURSUANT THERETO. THE AMOUNT REPRESENTS PAYMENT FOR A PORTION OF HIS HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS COMPLETELY DESTROYED BY FIRE ON JULY 4, 1966, IN THE WAREHOUSE OF THE SCARSDALE VAN AND STORAGE COMPANY, HARTSDALE, NEW YORK, WHILE MR. DONOVAN WAS ON AN OVERSEAS ASSIGNMENT AS AN OFFICER OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. YOU ALSO ASK THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS CONCERNING INSURANCE:

"1. CAN THE LIBRARY ACCEPT SCARSDALE VAN AND STORAGE COMPANY'S STATEMENT THAT IT IS NOT FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE?

"2. DOES THE FAILURE OF MR. DONOVAN TO INSURE HIS GOODS WHILE IN THE WAREHOUSE HAVE ANY EFFECT ON HIS CLAIM?

SECTION 3 OF PUBLIC LAW 88-558, APPROVED AUGUST 31, 1964, 78 STAT. 767, AS AMENDED BY SECTION 3 (B) OF PUBLIC LAW 89-185, APPROVED SEPTEMBER 15, 1965, 79 STAT. 789, 31 U.S.C. 241 (B) SUPPLEMENT II (1964 ED.), READS, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"/1) * * * UNDER SUCH REGULATIONS AS THE HEAD OF AN AGENCY * * * MAY PRESCRIBE, HE OR HIS DESIGNEE MAY SETTLE AND PAY A CLAIM ARISING * * * AGAINST THE UNITED STATES FOR NOT MORE THAN $6,500 MADE BY * * * A CIVILIAN OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THAT AGENCY FOR DAMAGE TO, OR LOSS OF, PERSONAL PROPERTY INCIDENT TO HIS SERVICE. IF THE CLAIM IS SUBSTANTIATED AND THE POSSESSION OF THAT PROPERTY IS DETERMINED TO BE REASONABLE, USEFUL, OR PROPER UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE CLAIM MAY BE PAID * * *.'

31 U.S.C. 242 (1964 ED.), READS AS FOLLOWS:

"NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW, THE SETTLEMENT OF A CLAIM UNDER SECTIONS 240-242 IS FINAL AND CONCLUSIVE.' SINCE YOU HAVE MADE AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION ON THE CLAIM PRESENTED TO YOU IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOREGOING STATUTORY PROVISIONS AND YOUR REGULATIONS ISSUED PURSUANT THERETO, SUCH DETERMINATION DISPOSES OF THE CLAIM AND THE SUBMITTED VOUCHER IN PAYMENT THEREOF IS NOT SUBJECT TO PRE-AUDIT BY US. B- 162901, NOVEMBER 29, 1967 (47 COMP. GEN. --- ). WE RETURN THE VOUCHER HEREWITH.

WITH RESPECT TO QUESTION 1, QUOTED ABOVE, WE POINT OUT THAT GENERALLY SPEAKING, UNDER A STANDARD NONNEGOTIABLE WAREHOUSE RECEIPT, WHICH WE PRESUME WAS ISSUED IN THIS CASE, THE RESPONSIBILITY OF A WAREHOUSEMAN IS USUALLY THE REASONABLE CARE AND DILIGENCE REQUIRED BY LAW. THE INFORMATION SUBMITTED DOES NOT SHOW WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FIRE THAT CAUSED THE LOSS. HOWEVER, YOU SAY THE MATTER IS BEING INVESTIGATED BY THE AMERICAN INSURANCE CONGRESS. IF THAT INVESTIGATION INDICATES THAT THE FIRE OCCURRED BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF REASONABLE CARE AND DILIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE STORAGE COMPANY, THEN IT WOULD APPEAR THAT ACTION SHOULD BE TAKEN TO COLLECT THE AMOUNT IN QUESTION FROM SUCH COMPANY REGARDLESS OF ITS DISCLAIMER OF FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. QUESTION 1 IS ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY. WE NOTE THAT YOUR REGULATIONS, UNLIKE OTHER AGENCY REGULATIONS, DO NOT CONTAIN PROVISIONS GOVERNING RECOVERY FROM A CARRIER, INSURER OR OTHER THIRD PARTY OR THE ASSIGNMENT OF RIGHTS OF A CLAIMANT AGAINST A CARRIER, INSURER OR OTHER PARTY, ARISING OUT OF THE INCIDENT ON WHICH THE CLAIM AGAINST THE UNITED STATES UNDER THE ACT IS BASED.

CONCERNING QUESTION 2, SET OUT ABOVE, WE FIND NOTHING IN THE LAW, LEGISLATIVE HISTORY THEREOF OR YOUR REGULATIONS THAT REQUIRES THE CARRYING OF PRIVATE INSURANCE ON SUCH PROPERTY. IN VIEW THEREOF QUESTION 2 IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE.