B-199452.OM, OCT 7, 1980

B-199452.OM: Oct 7, 1980

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FGMSD - CLAIMS GROUP (RM. 5858): RETURNED IS FILE Z-2822039. ROMEL'S CLAIM WAS DENIED BY CLAIMS GROUP SETTLEMENT DATED MAY 5. ANY CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT WOULD HAVE TO BE PAID UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM. ROMEL HAD NOT PROVIDED A COPY OF THE BILL OF LADING OR ANY OTHER DOCUMENT WHICH WOULD SHOW THE WEIGHT OF THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS WHICH WERE SHIPPED. THIS FOLLOWED FROM THE FACT THAT IT IS NECESSARY TO KNOW THE WEIGHT OF THE GOODS TRANSPORTED IN THAT THE AMOUNT OF REIMBURSEMENT TO BE PAID IS DETERMINED BY MULTIPLYING THE NUMBER OF HUNDREDS OF POUNDS SHIPPED BY THE APPLICABLE RATE FROM THE COMMUTED RATE SCHEDULE. ROMEL HAS PRODUCED A COPY OF HIS LEASE FOR A FULLY FURNISHED APARTMENT COVERING THE PERIOD OF HIS RESIDENCE IN ARLINGTON AS SUPPORTING EVIDENCE THAT THE HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS WHICH WERE SHIPPED TO ARLINGTON IN CONNECTION WITH THE PREVIOUS TRANSFER WERE NOT USED TO FURNISH LIVING QUARTERS IN THIS AREA BUT REMAINED INTACT AWAITING PROBABLE ONWARD SHIPMENT TO SAN DIEGO AT A LATER DATE.

B-199452.OM, OCT 7, 1980

SUBJECT: JOSEPH ROMEL - CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS SHIPPING EXPENSES - B-199452-O.M.

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, FGMSD - CLAIMS GROUP (RM. 5858):

RETURNED IS FILE Z-2822039, TOGETHER WITH RELATED PAPERS WHICH COMPRISE THE CLAIM OF MR. JOSEPH ROMEL. MR. ROMEL - THROUGH HIS WIFE MRS. QUEENIE KIM QUEE ROMEL - CLAIMS REIMBURSEMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,163.68 FOR THE COST OF A SHIPMENT OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS FROM ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, TO SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, IN NOVEMBER 1974, INCIDENT TO HIS TRANSFER AND SUBSEQUENT DISABILITY RETIREMENT AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT.

MR. ROMEL'S CLAIM WAS DENIED BY CLAIMS GROUP SETTLEMENT DATED MAY 5, 1980. THE SETTLEMENT INDICATED THAT SINCE MR. ROMEL MADE HIS OWN ARRANGEMENTS FOR TRANSPORTING HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS, ANY CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT WOULD HAVE TO BE PAID UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM. AND, BECAUSE MR. ROMEL HAD NOT PROVIDED A COPY OF THE BILL OF LADING OR ANY OTHER DOCUMENT WHICH WOULD SHOW THE WEIGHT OF THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS WHICH WERE SHIPPED, HIS CLAIM COULD NOT BE ALLOWED. THIS FOLLOWED FROM THE FACT THAT IT IS NECESSARY TO KNOW THE WEIGHT OF THE GOODS TRANSPORTED IN THAT THE AMOUNT OF REIMBURSEMENT TO BE PAID IS DETERMINED BY MULTIPLYING THE NUMBER OF HUNDREDS OF POUNDS SHIPPED BY THE APPLICABLE RATE FROM THE COMMUTED RATE SCHEDULE.

NOW, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THAT PORTION OF THE SETTLEMENT PERTAINING TO FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF THE CLAIM UPON SUBMISSION OF THE REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION, MR. ROMEL HAS PRESENTED ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE. MR. ROMEL HAS PRODUCED A COPY OF HIS LEASE FOR A FULLY FURNISHED APARTMENT COVERING THE PERIOD OF HIS RESIDENCE IN ARLINGTON AS SUPPORTING EVIDENCE THAT THE HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS WHICH WERE SHIPPED TO ARLINGTON IN CONNECTION WITH THE PREVIOUS TRANSFER WERE NOT USED TO FURNISH LIVING QUARTERS IN THIS AREA BUT REMAINED INTACT AWAITING PROBABLE ONWARD SHIPMENT TO SAN DIEGO AT A LATER DATE. THUS MR. ROMEL CONTENDS THAT THE APPROPRIATE SHIPPING DOCUMENTS (I.E. BILL OF LADING AND DELIVERY CERTIFICATES) FROM HIS PREVIOUS MOVE FROM LONDON TO ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, IN DECEMBER 1973, WHICH SHOW A DELIVERY WEIGHT OF 4928 POUNDS AND A SEPARATE AIR SHIPMENT OF 181 POUNDS, SHOULD BE USED AS THE TOTAL WEIGHT OF THE SHIPMENT FROM ARLINGTON TO SAN DIEGO.

THIS DOCUMENTATION IS ADDED TO THE COPY OF MR. ROMEL'S RECEIPTED CHECK DATED NOVEMBER 27, 1974, TO THE BANK OF AMERICA IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,163.68, AND THE COPY OF A BANK OF AMERICA "CASHIER'S CHECK" PAYABLE TO CONTINENTAL VAN LINES WHICH WAS CASHED ON DECEMBER 3, 1974. THESE MATERIALS WERE ORIGINALLY OFFERED BY MR. ROMEL TO ESTABLISH HIS ACTUAL MOVING EXPENSES FOR THE SHIPMENT IN QUESTION.

AS THE SETTLEMENT INDICATED, AT THE TIME IN QUESTION, THE TRANSPORTATION OF HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS WAS GOVERNED BY THE REGULATIONS CONTAINED IN THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS (FTR) (FPMR 101-7) (MAY 1973) CHAPTER 2 WHICH ARE STILL IN USE TODAY. SINCE HE MADE HIS OWN ARRANGEMENTS FOR TRANSPORTING HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS, ANY CLAIM MUST BE PAID UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM. SECTION 2-8.3A(3) OF THE FTR WHICH SETS OUT THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DOCUMENTATION RELATING TO SHIPMENTS OF HOUSEHOLD GOODS, PROVIDES THAT:

"(3) DOCUMENTATION. CLAIMS FOR REIMBURSEMENT UNDER THE COMMUTED RATE SYSTEM SHALL BE SUPPORTED BY A RECEIPTED COPY OF THE BILL OF LADING (A REPRODUCED COPY MAY BE ACCEPTED) INCLUDING ANY ATTACHED WEIGHT CERTIFICATE COPIES IF SUCH A BILL WAS ISSUED. IF NO BILL OF LADING WAS INVOLVED OTHER EVIDENCE SHOWING POINTS OF ORIGIN AND DESTINATION AND THE WEIGHT OF THE GOODS MUST BE SUBMITTED. EMPLOYEES WHO TRANSPORT THEIR OWN HOUSEHOLD GOODS ARE CAUTIONED TO ESTABLISH THE WEIGHT OF SUCH GOODS BY OBTAINING PROPER WEIGHT CERTIFICATES SHOWING GROSS WEIGHT (WEIGHT OF VEHICLE AND GOODS) AND TARE WEIGHT (WEIGHT OF VEHICLE ALONE) BECAUSE COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS FOR PAYMENT AT COMMUTED RATES ON THE BASIS OF CONSTRUCTIVE WEIGHT (2-8.2B(4)) USUALLY IS NOT POSSIBLE."

WHERE AN EMPLOYEE HAS FAILED TO OBTAIN THE ACTUAL WEIGHT OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS AT THE TIME OF TRANSPORTATION, HE MAY BE PAID AT THE COMMUTED RATE ONLY IF HE IS ABLE TO SHOW THE AMOUNT OF SPACE OCCUPIED BY HIS GOODS AND THAT THE GOODS WERE PROPERLY LOADED IN THE SPACE AVAILABLE. SEE FTR PARAGRAPH 2-8.2B(4). IN ESTABLISHING THE AMOUNT OF SPACE WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN OCCUPIED BY HIS EFFECTS IF PROPERLY LOADED, THE EMPLOYEE MAY SUBMIT A LIST OF ITEMS TRANSPORTED TOGETHER WITH THE VOLUME OCCUPIED BY EACH BASED ON ACTUAL MEASUREMENT OR A UNIFORM TABLE, PREFERABLY PREPARED BY A COMMERCIAL CARRIER. 48 COMP.GEN. 115 (1968).

FURTHER, IF THE EMPLOYEE IS UNABLE TO ESTABLISH HIS ENTITLEMENT TO A COMMUTED PAYMENT BY COMPLYING WITH THE REQUIREMENTS LISTED ABOVE, HE MAY BE REIMBURSED THE ACTUAL EXPENSES INCURRED IN TRANSPORTING HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS UPON COMPLYING WITH THE RULE SET FORTH IN 38 COMP.GEN. 554, 555 (1959) AS FOLLOWS:

"WHEN, HOWEVER, AS HERE, THE EVIDENCE AVAILABLE AFFORDS A BASIS FOR CONCLUDING THAT THE ACTUAL WEIGHT OF THE GOODS SHIPPED REASONABLY APPROXIMATES THE ESTIMATED WEIGHT, THE EMPLOYEE MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR HIS ACTUAL EXPENSES TO THE EXTENT THEY DO NOT EXCEED THE AMOUNT WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN PAYABLE FOR SUCH ESTIMATED WEIGHT AT THE APPLICABLE COMMUTED RATES."

THE RECORD BEFORE US DOES NOT APPEAR TO CONTAIN SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE EITHER OF ACTUAL WEIGHT OR VOLUME TO INITIALLY ESTABLISH MR. ROMEL'S ENTITLEMENT TO REIMBURSEMENT ON A COMMUTED RATE BASIS. HOWEVER, WE FIND THAT THE COPY OF THE CASHIER'S CHECK PAYABLE TO THE MOVING COMPANY IS CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT MR. ROMEL DID INCUR $1,163.68 OF EXPENSES IN CONNECTION WITH THE SHIPMENT OF HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS FROM ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, TO SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, IN NOVEMBER 1974. FURTHERMORE, WE FIND THAT THE SHIPPING DOCUMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH MR. ROMEL'S PREVIOUS MOVE - LESS THAN 1 YEAR BEFORE THE SHIPMENT IN QUESTION - AFFORD A REASONABLE BASIS FOR CONCLUDING THAT THE ACTUAL WEIGHT OF MR. ROMEL'S HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS APPROXIMATED AT LEAST THE 5,109 POUNDS ANNOTATED ON THOSE DOCUMENTS.

IN REACHING THIS CONCLUSION WE ARE MINDFUL OF THE FACT THAT FOR THE APPROXIMATELY 1-YEAR PERIOD DURING WHICH MR. ROMEL RESIDED IN ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, HE OCCUPIED A FULLY FURNISHED APARTMENT, AND AS HE HAS STATED, HIS HOUSEHOLD GOODS WERE NOT USED TO FURNISH THESE LIVING QUARTERS BUT REMAINED INTACT AWAITING PROBABLE ONWARD SHIPMENT TO SAN DIEGO AT A LATER DATE.

IN VIEW OF THESE FINDINGS, MR. ROMEL MAY BE REIMBURSED HIS ACTUAL EXPENSES TO THE EXTENT THAT THEY DO NOT EXCEED THE AMOUNT WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN PAYABLE FOR 5,109 POUNDS AT THE THEN APPLICABLE COMMUTED RATE. SEE B-178008, APRIL 18, 1973, AND DECISIONS CITED THEREIN.