B-197911.6, May 25, 1989

B-197911.6: May 25, 1989

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

The carrier did not show that the military member's estimates were unreasonable in comparison with local market repair prices or the value of the articles. GAO is uncertain whether the estimates obtained by the carrier were for restoration of the furniture to the same extent as the estimates obtained by the military member. The shipment was delivered on July 25. The only issue between the Navy and Interstate International is the cost to repair and refinish furniture damaged when the household goods were shipped. Interstate International urges that the repair estimates it obtained from a furniture repair service are much lower and more reasonable than those obtained by Mr. It states that the furniture repair service is a qualified reputable firm.

B-197911.6, May 25, 1989

PROCUREMENT - Payment/Discharge - Shipment - Carrier liability - Amount determination DIGEST: Furniture repair estimates obtained by the carrier in connection with a damage claim by the shipper of household goods, although lower than the estimates obtained by the shipper, do not warrant reducing the measure of damages and the Navy's recovery against the carrier for injury to the furniture shipped. The carrier did not show that the military member's estimates were unreasonable in comparison with local market repair prices or the value of the articles. GAO is uncertain whether the estimates obtained by the carrier were for restoration of the furniture to the same extent as the estimates obtained by the military member.

Interstate International, Inc. - Damage to Household Goods:

This decision denies the claim of Interstate International, Inc., for a refund of $650.54, a portion of the $1,047.78 which the United States Navy recovered from Interstate International for damage to the household goods of Thomas G. Markey, a Navy member, during their shipment, from Newport News, Virginia to Wyoming, Rhode Island. The shipment was delivered on July 25, 1983.

The only issue between the Navy and Interstate International is the cost to repair and refinish furniture damaged when the household goods were shipped. Interstate International urges that the repair estimates it obtained from a furniture repair service are much lower and more reasonable than those obtained by Mr. Markey. It states that the furniture repair service is a qualified reputable firm, independent from Interstate International, and that the estimates reflect the actual prices charged by the firm to satisfactorily repair the damaged items. On the other hand, the Navy considers the estimates obtained by Mr. Markey from several firms to be valid and acceptable to the government.

Under the Interstate Commerce Act, 49 U.S.C. Sec. 10101 et seq., Interstate International is liable as a common carrier for the full actual repair cost of the damage done to the furniture up to the agreed maximum liability of 60 cent a pound applicable to this shipment. Interstate Van Lines, Inc., B-197911, Sept. 9, 1988. We have held that a repair estimate obtained by a military member reflects the measure of damages if the estimate is not unreasonable in comparison with local market price of the repair service or the value of the article. See Allied Van Lines, Inc., B-182690, May 20, 1977. In that decision we observed that a lower estimate available to the carrier from a particular firm does not show that the military member's estimate is unreasonable.

Interstate International has not demonstrated that the estimates submitted by Mr. Markey were unreasonable in comparison with local market repair prices or the value of the articles. We are uncertain whether the estimates secured by Interstate International from the furniture repair service included restoration of the furniture to the same extent as the estimates obtained by Mr. Markey, particularly with respect to the finishing required. As an example we note that for inventory item number 20 Mr. Markey submitted an estimate of $701.00 for repair of a sofa because of water-stained fabric, gouged support decking, ripped left side, splintering of the frame, and damaged right rear leg. The estimate furnished by the carrier gave an estimate of only $15 for this sofa, but the repair list mentioned just the broken rear leg and deck. We also point out that although there is wide disparity between the two sets of estimates, the Navy's recovery of $1,047.78 by set-off was for most items limited to the 60 cents a pound maximum recovery rather than the entire amount of the estimates submitted by Mr. Markey.

We do not find that the different estimates or other reasons warrant refund of any portion of the recovery. Accordingly, we sustain our Claims Group's denial of Interstate International's claim.