B-204002.OM, MAR 31, 1982

B-204002.OM: Mar 31, 1982

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DIGEST: EMPLOYEE OF FOREST SERVICE RENTED HIS HORSE TO FOREST SERVICE UNDER WRITTEN CONTRACT WHICH WAS VOID DUE TO LACK OF PROCUREMENT AUTHORITY OF DISTRICT RANGER WHO ENTERED INTO CONTRACT FOR FOREST SERVICE. EMPLOYEE IS LIMITED TO $50 RECOVERY SINCE WRITTEN AGREEMENT IS VOID AND 16 U.S.C. 502(D) EXPRESSLY LIMITS EMPLOYEE TO $50 MAXIMUM FOR DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY HE RENTS TO THE FOREST SERVICE IN THE ABSENCE OF A WRITTEN AGREEMENT. AFMD - CLAIMS GROUP (ROOM 5858): RETURNED IS YOUR FILE Z-2827467. THIS MATTER WAS SUBMITTED TO US AS AN APPEAL TO A SETTLEMENT OF THE CLAIMS GROUP. IT APPEARS THAT A SETTLEMENT WAS NEVER ISSUED. IT WILL BE TREATED AS A REQUEST FOR INSTRUCTIONS. IS SEEKING TO BE REIMBURSED $700 FOR THE DEATH OF HIS HORSE THAT HE LEASED TO THE FOREST SERVICE.

B-204002.OM, MAR 31, 1982

SUBJECT: INSTRUCTIONS FOR SETTLING CLAIM OF ANTHONY R. GRIJALVA - B-204002 O.M. DIGEST: EMPLOYEE OF FOREST SERVICE RENTED HIS HORSE TO FOREST SERVICE UNDER WRITTEN CONTRACT WHICH WAS VOID DUE TO LACK OF PROCUREMENT AUTHORITY OF DISTRICT RANGER WHO ENTERED INTO CONTRACT FOR FOREST SERVICE. UPON DESTRUCTION OF HORSE, EMPLOYEE IS LIMITED TO $50 RECOVERY SINCE WRITTEN AGREEMENT IS VOID AND 16 U.S.C. 502(D) EXPRESSLY LIMITS EMPLOYEE TO $50 MAXIMUM FOR DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY HE RENTS TO THE FOREST SERVICE IN THE ABSENCE OF A WRITTEN AGREEMENT.

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, AFMD - CLAIMS GROUP (ROOM 5858):

RETURNED IS YOUR FILE Z-2827467. THIS MATTER WAS SUBMITTED TO US AS AN APPEAL TO A SETTLEMENT OF THE CLAIMS GROUP; HOWEVER, IT APPEARS THAT A SETTLEMENT WAS NEVER ISSUED. ACCORDINGLY, IT WILL BE TREATED AS A REQUEST FOR INSTRUCTIONS.

THE CLAIMANT, MR. ANTONIO R. GRIJALVA, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FOREST SERVICE, IS SEEKING TO BE REIMBURSED $700 FOR THE DEATH OF HIS HORSE THAT HE LEASED TO THE FOREST SERVICE. SINCE THERE EXISTS NO VALID WRITTEN CONTRACT OF RENTAL, MR. GRIJALVA IS LIMITED TO A RECOVERY OF $50 BY THE EXPRESS LANGUAGE OF 16 U.S.C. 502(D).

ON FEBRUARY 17, 1978, THE CLAIMANT ENTERED INTO A WRITTEN AGREEMENT WITH HIS EMPLOYING AGENCY, THROUGH THE DISTRICT RANGER, TO PROVIDE THE FOREST SERVICE WITH A HORSE FOR ITS USE AND FOR WHICH IN RETURN HE WOULD RECEIVE CARE AND FOOD FOR THE HORSE. ON JANUARY 16, 1980, HE FOUND HIS HORSE DEAD IN A PASTURE. PURSUANT TO AGENCY REGULATION, HE FILED A CLAIM FOR $700 REPRESENTING THE VALUE OF THE HORSE.

WHEN THE FOREST SERVICE CONSIDERED MR. GRIJALVA'S CLAIM FOR THE DEAD HORSE, THE FOREST SERVICE CONCLUDED THAT THE DISTRICT RANGER LACKED CONTRACTING AUTHORITY. THEREFORE, NO VALID WRITTEN CONTRACT AROSE BETWEEN THE CLAIMANT AND HIS EMPLOYING AGENCY.

PURSUANT TO 16 U.S.C. 502(B), THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE IS EXPRESSLY AUTHORIZED TO PROVIDE CARE AND FOOD FOR HORSES IT NEEDS AND OBTAINS FROM FOREST SERVICE EMPLOYEES. SUBSECTION (D) OF THIS SAME STATUE, HOWEVER, PROVIDES THAT A FOREST SERVICE EMPLOYEE WHO LEASES HIS HORSE OR OTHER PROPERTY TO HIS AGENCY IS LIMITED TO A MAXIMUM RECOVERY OF $50 FOR THE LOSS OR DESTRUCTION OF HIS PROPERTY UNLESS THE PROPERTY WAS MADE AVAILABLE UNDER A VALID WRITTEN CONTRACT. ACCORDINGLY, MR. GRIJALVA IS LIMITED TO A MAXIMUM RECOVERY OF $50 SINCE THERE EXISTED NO VALID WRITTEN CONTRACT FOR RENTAL OF HIS HORSE. SEE A-37303, SEPTEMBER 3, 1931.

IN REACHING THE ABOVE CONCLUSION, WE CONSIDERED WHETHER MR. GRIJALVA COULD BE PAID ON THE BASIS OF QUANTUM MERUIT OR VALEBAT OR RATIFICATION OF THE ORIGINAL CONTRACT OF RENTAL, BOTH OF WHICH ISSUES WERE RAISED IN THE CASE FILE. THERE COULD BE NO RECOVERY BY THE CLAIMANT UNDER A QUANTUM MERUIT OR VALEBAT BASIS SINCE THIS IS A REMEDY THAT ALLOWS AN INDIVIDUAL TO BE PAID THE REASONABLE VALUE FOR GOODS OR SERVICES THAT HE SUPPLIED UNDER AN INVALID CONTRACT OR IN THE ABSENCE OF A CONTRACT AND NOT FOR LOSS OR DAMAGE TO PROPERTY THAT HE LOANED TO THE GOVERNMENT. SEE B-196556, AUGUST 5, 1980. REIMBURSEMENT FOR LOSS OR DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY THAT AN INDIVIDUAL LEASES OR LOANS TO THE GOVERNMENT WOULD COME UNDER THE THEORY OF BAILMENT IN WHICH THE GOVERNMENT MUST BE SHOWN TO BE NEGLIGENT IN PROVIDING REASONABLE CARE OF THE LEASED PROPERTY. SEE B-171084, DECEMBER 15, 1970. THIS LATTER BASIS OF REIMBURSEMENT CANNOT BE USED BECAUSE THERE IS NO INDICATION OF ANY LACK OF DUE CARE BEING PROVIDED BY THE GOVERNMENT OR ITS AGENTS IN CARING FOR THE HORSE. IN ANY EVENT THE LANGUAGE OF 16 U.S.C. 502(D) SPECIFICALLY LIMITS ANY RECOVERY TO $50 IN THE ABSENCE OF A VALID WRITTEN AGREEMENT.

RATIFICATION OF A CONTRACT IS WHERE AN AUTHORIZED OFFICIAL VALIDATES THE CONTRACT AND GIVES IT EFFECT FROM ITS ORIGINAL DATE. SEE 22 COMP.GEN. 1083, 1086 (1943). HERE, THE FOREST SERVICE HAS SPECIFICALLY REJECTED RATIFICATION OF THE AGREEMENT.

ACCORDINGLY, MR. GRIJALVA'S CLAIM FOR $700 SHOULD BE DENIED; HOWEVER, THE CLAIM SHOULD BE RETURNED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE WITH INSTRUCTIONS THAT THE SECRETARY MAY AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF MR. GRIJALVA'S CLAIM NOT TO EXCEED $50 AS LIMITED BY 16 U.S.C. 502(D).