B-196555, JAN 17, 1980

B-196555: Jan 17, 1980

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C51952-6) CALIFORNIA STATE AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR CLAIM IN THE AMOUNT OF $1. WATTS STATED THAT HE WAS BACKING OUT OF A SPACE IN THE PARKING LOT OF HIS APARTMENT WHEN HIS PASSENGER DOOR CAME OPEN. THE CAR WAS IN REVERSE AND TRAVELLED BACKWARD ABOUT SEVEN FEET BEFORE COLLIDING WITH THE UNOCCUPIED PARKED CAR BELONGING TO YOUR INSURED. IT IS APPARENT THAT. WATTS WAS AT FAULT IN BACKING INTO MS. WHICH WAS LEGALLY PARKED AT THE TIME IT WAS STRUCK. THE GOVERNMENT VEHICLE WAS NOT DAMAGED. WATTS WAS AUTHORIZED TO USE THE CAR FROM THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (GSA) MOTOR POOL AT 450 GOLDEN GATE STREET. ON THE DAY OF THE ACCIDENT HE WAS COVERED BY A BLANKET WRITTEN AUTHORIZATION FROM GAO TO USE A GSA VEHICLE FOR THE PURPOSE OF PICKING UP SUPPLIES.

B-196555, JAN 17, 1980

RE: YOUR INSURED: ELLA SCHAUER (CLAIM NO. C51952-6)

CALIFORNIA STATE AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR CLAIM IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,050 AS SUBROGEE OF THE ABOVE-NAMED POLICYHOLDER FOR AN AMOUNT PAID TO YOUR INSURED FOR DAMAGES TO HER AUTOMOBILE RESULTING FROM AN ACCIDENT ON AUGUST 17, 1979, INVOLVING A GOVERNMENT-OWNED VEHICLE OPERATED BY MR. DENNIS WATTS, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE.

THE RECORD BEFORE OUR OFFICE SHOWS THAT MR. WATTS STATED THAT HE WAS BACKING OUT OF A SPACE IN THE PARKING LOT OF HIS APARTMENT WHEN HIS PASSENGER DOOR CAME OPEN. IN REACHING ACROSS THE SEAT TO CLOSE THE DOOR, HIS FOOT SLIPPED OFF THE BRAKE AND ON TO THE GAS PEDAL. THE CAR WAS IN REVERSE AND TRAVELLED BACKWARD ABOUT SEVEN FEET BEFORE COLLIDING WITH THE UNOCCUPIED PARKED CAR BELONGING TO YOUR INSURED, MS. ELLA SCHAUER.

IN EVALUATING YOUR CLAIM, IT IS APPARENT THAT, BASED UPON THE FACTS SUBMITTED, MR. WATTS WAS AT FAULT IN BACKING INTO MS. SCHAUER'S CAR, WHICH WAS LEGALLY PARKED AT THE TIME IT WAS STRUCK. DAMAGE TO HER CAR AMOUNTED TO $1,050. THE GOVERNMENT VEHICLE WAS NOT DAMAGED.

ACCORDING TO STANDARD FORM 91, THE OPERATOR'S REPORT OF MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT, AND OPTIONAL FORM 26, DATA BEARING UPON SCOPE OF EMPLOYMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATOR, MR. WATTS WAS AUTHORIZED TO USE THE CAR FROM THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (GSA) MOTOR POOL AT 450 GOLDEN GATE STREET, SAN FRANCISCO, TO THE GSA SELF SERVICE STORE FOR THE PURPOSE OF PURCHASING AND PICKING UP SUPPLIES FROM THAT STORE FOR TRANSPORTING BACK TO GAO. ON THE DAY OF THE ACCIDENT HE WAS COVERED BY A BLANKET WRITTEN AUTHORIZATION FROM GAO TO USE A GSA VEHICLE FOR THE PURPOSE OF PICKING UP SUPPLIES.

MR. WATTS STATED THAT ON THE DAY IN QUESTION HE WORKED THROUGH HIS LUNCH HOUR UNTIL ABOUT 2:25 P.M., AT WHICH TIME HE DROVE THE CAR HOME FROM HIS OFFICE TO HAVE LUNCH. AS HE STATES IN OPTIONAL FORM 26, HE HAD NO AUTHORITY OR PERMISSION FROM HIS SUPERVISOR TO TAKE THE CAR HOME. HE WAS ON HIS WAY BACK TO WORK FROM LUNCH WHEN THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED.

THE RECORD BEFORE US INDICATES, AND MR. WATTS ADMITS, THAT WHEN THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED HE HAD DEVIATED FROM THE DIRECT ROUTE FOR WHICH USE OF THE GSA CAR WAS AUTHORIZED. IT HAS BEEN OFFICIALLY DETERMINED BY OUR OFFICE, THEREFORE, THAT AT THE TIME OF THE COLLISION THE GAO EMPLOYEE WAS NOT WITHIN THE SCOPE OF HIS EMPLOYMENT. UNDER THE FEDERAL TORT CLAIMS ACT THE GOVERNMENT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE NEGLIGENT ACTS OF ITS EMPLOYEES ONLY WHEN THEY ARE ACTING WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THEIR EMPLOYMENT. HENCE, THE GAO IS NOT CHARGEABLE WITH THE COST INCURRED BY YOUR COMPANY AS A RESULT OF THE ACCIDENT, AND WILL NOT ACCEPT BILLING FOR THE DAMAGE TO MS. SCHAUER'S AUTOMOBILE.

IN VIEW OF THE EVIDENCE, WE HAVE NO ALTERNATIVE BUT TO DENY YOUR CLAIM. IF YOU ARE DISSATISFIED WITH THIS DENIAL, YOU MAY FILE SUIT AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT IN THE APPROPRIATE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NOT LATER THAN 6 MONTHS AFTER THE DATE OF MAILING OF THIS LETTER. SEE 28 U.S.C. SEC. 2401(B) (1976) AND 28 C.F.R. SEC. 14.9.