B-209951, JUN 7, 1983

B-209951: Jun 7, 1983

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DIGEST: A NAVY EMPLOYEE ON TEMPORARY DUTY WHO WAS AUTHORIZED COMMERCIAL CAR RENTAL DECLINED THE EXTRA COLLISION INSURANCE NECESSARY TO PROVIDE FULL COVERAGE AND BECAME OBLIGATED TO PAY ANY LOSS THROUGH COLLISION DAMAGE TO A MAXIMUM OF $500. HE ALLOWED THE FRIEND TO DRIVE THE RENTAL CAR AND THE VEHICLE WAS DAMAGED IN AN ACCIDENT. THE NAVY HAS DETERMINED THAT THE AUTOMOBILE WAS BEING USED ON OTHER THAN OFFICIAL BUSINESS. THAT DETERMINATION WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED AND REIMBURSEMENT FOR PERSONAL FUNDS THE EMPLOYEE PAID FOR DAMAGES IS NOT AUTHORIZED. THE CLAIM MUST BE DISALLOWED SINCE THE NAVY HAS DETERMINED THAT THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED WHEN THE AUTOMOBILE WAS BEING USED FOR OTHER THAN OFFICIAL BUSINESS.

B-209951, JUN 7, 1983

DIGEST: A NAVY EMPLOYEE ON TEMPORARY DUTY WHO WAS AUTHORIZED COMMERCIAL CAR RENTAL DECLINED THE EXTRA COLLISION INSURANCE NECESSARY TO PROVIDE FULL COVERAGE AND BECAME OBLIGATED TO PAY ANY LOSS THROUGH COLLISION DAMAGE TO A MAXIMUM OF $500. WHILE ON A TRIP OUTSIDE THE PRIMARY DUTY AREA AND GOING TO A RESTAURANT WITH A FRIEND AND HIS WIFE, HE ALLOWED THE FRIEND TO DRIVE THE RENTAL CAR AND THE VEHICLE WAS DAMAGED IN AN ACCIDENT. THE NAVY HAS DETERMINED THAT THE AUTOMOBILE WAS BEING USED ON OTHER THAN OFFICIAL BUSINESS. THAT DETERMINATION WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED AND REIMBURSEMENT FOR PERSONAL FUNDS THE EMPLOYEE PAID FOR DAMAGES IS NOT AUTHORIZED.

TIMOTHY J. DOYLE:

MR. TIMOTHY J. DOYLE APPEALS OUR CLAIMS GROUP'S OCTOBER 22, 1982 DENIAL OF HIS CLAIM FOR EXPENSES PAID FOR DAMAGES INCURRED IN AN ACCIDENT TO A RENTED AUTOMOBILE. THE CLAIM MUST BE DISALLOWED SINCE THE NAVY HAS DETERMINED THAT THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED WHEN THE AUTOMOBILE WAS BEING USED FOR OTHER THAN OFFICIAL BUSINESS.

BY TRAVEL ORDER DATED SEPTEMBER 2, 1981, MR. TIMOTHY J. DOYLE, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE NAVY, WAS AUTHORIZED TEMPORARY DUTY TRAVEL FROM ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND, TO CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, AND RETURN, FOR THE PURPOSES OF ATTENDING A CONFERENCE DURING THE PERIOD SEPTEMBER 23-25, 1981. HIS ORDERS AUTHORIZED COMMERCIAL CAR RENTAL WHILE IN THE TEMPORARY DUTY AREA.

AN AUTOMOBILE WAS RENTED BY MR. DOYLE FROM NATIONAL CAR RENTAL UPON ARRIVAL IN CHICAGO FOR HIS USE DURING THE TEMPORARY DUTY PERIOD. HE DID NOT OBTAIN THE EXTRA INSURANCE NECESSARY TO PROVIDE FULL COLLISION COVERAGE.

ALTHOUGH THE CONFERENCE WAS SCHEDULED TO END AT 12:30 P.M. ON SEPTEMBER 25, 1981, MR. DOYLE WAS NOT SCHEDULED FOR RETURN AIR TRAVEL FROM CHICAGO UNTIL SEPTEMBER 26, 1981. HE STATES THAT IN ORDER TO CONTINUE DISCUSSIONS WITH 2 CONFERENCE MEMBERS FROM NOTRE DAME UNIVERSITY, HE DROVE THEM TO SOUTH BEND, INDIANA, ON SEPTEMBER 25, 1981. APPARENTLY THE DISCUSSIONS WERE CARRIED ON DURING THE TRIP. HE STAYED OVERNIGHT IN SOUTH BEND WITH A FRIEND AND RETURNED TO CHICAGO FOR HIS FLIGHT THE NEXT DAY. THERE IS NO RECORD OF MR. DOYLE OBTAINING PRIOR AUTHORIZATION FROM THE NAVY TO DEVIATE FROM HIS SCHEDULED TEMPORARY DUTY ITINERARY FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAKING THIS TRIP TO A LOCATION OVER 85 MILES FROM CHICAGO. WHILE IN SOUTH BEND, HE ALLOWED HIS FRIEND AND HOST TO DRIVE HIM AND HIS FRIEND'S WIFE IN THE RENTAL CAR TO A LOCAL RESTAURANT FOR DINNER. AN ACCIDENT OCCURRED WHILE MR. DOYLE AND FRIENDS WERE GOING TO THE RESTAURANT. THEREAFTER, MR. DOYLE WAS NOTIFIED BY NATIONAL CAR RENTAL THAT SINCE HE HAD DECLINED OPTIONAL COLLISION WAIVER HE BECAME CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGATED TO PAY THEM FOR THEIR LOSS THROUGH HIS COLLISION DAMAGE TO THE RENTAL CAR TO A MAXIMUM OF $500. AFTER MAKING PAYMENT IN THIS AMOUNT BY PERSONAL CHECK DATED DECEMBER 4, 1981, HE SUBMITTED HIS CLAIM TO THE NAVY FOR REIMBURSEMENT. THE NAVY FINANCE CENTER ON MARCH 22, 1982, DECLINED PAYMENT ON THE BASIS THAT MR. DOYLE WAS NOT ENGAGED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES WHEN THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED. ON MAY 17, 1982, AFTER AN ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW, MR. DOYLE'S TRAVEL ORDER WAS AMENDED TO INCLUDE SOUTH BEND, INDIANA, BASED UPON ADDITIONAL TIME HE CONTENDED THAT HE NEEDED FOR COLLABORATION WITH CONFERENCE ATTENDEES FROM NOTRE DAME UNIVERSITY BEFORE RETURNING TO HIS PERMANENT DUTY STATION AND IN ORDER TO REDUCE COSTS FOR TRAVEL AND LODGING TO THE GOVERNMENT BY STAYING WITH HIS FRIENDS IN SOUTH BEND. HIS CLAIM WAS THEN SUBMITTED TO OUR CLAIMS GROUP WHICH DISALLOWED IT.

IN HIS APPEAL, MR. DOYLE SUGGESTS THAT SINCE THE RENTAL VEHICLE WAS USED TO SECURE DINNER AT A REASONABLE HOUR IN A TEMPORARY DUTY AREA, THE VEHICLE WAS BEING USED ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS WHEN THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED. HE FURTHER INDICATES THAT IN THE USE OF THE RENTAL CAR, INCLUDING ALLOWING HIS FRIEND TO DRIVE, HE EXERCISED THE SAME CARE A PRUDENT PERSON WOULD EXERCISE IF TRAVELING ON PERSONAL BUSINESS SINCE HIS FRIEND WAS FAMILIAR WITH LOCAL ROADS IN SOUTH BEND.

IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FEDERAL TRAVEL REGULATIONS THEN IN EFFECT (FPMR 101-7, TEMP. REG A-11, SUPP. 4, PARA. 1-3.2C), THE JOINT TRAVEL REGULATIONS, VOLUME 2, PARAGRAPH C2101-2C(2) (CH. 180, OCTOBER 1, 1980), PROVIDE:

"(2) COST OF DAMAGE TO RENTED AUTOMOBILE. WHEN EXTRA COLLISION INSURANCE WAS NOT PURCHASED, AN EMPLOYEE MAY BE REIMBURSED UP TO THE DEDUCTIBLE AMOUNT AS CONTAINED IN THE RENTAL CONTRACT FOR PERSONAL FUNDS PAID TO RENTAL CAR AGENCIES FOR DAMAGE SUSTAINED BY AN AUTOMOBILE PROPERLY RENTED, AND DAMAGED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL BUSINESS. DIRECT PAYMENTS OF SUCH DEDUCTIBLE AMOUNT MAY ALSO BE MADE BY THE GOVERNMENT TO CAR RENTAL AGENCIES INSTEAD OF TO THE EMPLOYEE. REIMBURSEMENT FOR PERSONAL FUNDS PAID FOR DAMAGE SUSTAINED BY A RENTED AUTOMOBILE WHILE BEING USED ON OTHER THAN OFFICIAL BUSINESS IS NOT AUTHORIZED."

HAD MR. DOYLE BEEN DRIVING THE VEHICLE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT, THE COST OF THE DAMAGES WHICH HE WAS REQUIRED TO PAY WOULD HAVE BEEN REIMBURSED BY THE GOVERNMENT.

WHILE MR. DOYLE'S SUPERIORS ISSUED AN AMENDMENT TO HIS TRAVEL ORDERS INDICATING THAT TRAVEL TO SOUTH BEND WAS ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS THE RESPONSIBLE FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING OFFICIALS HAVE DETERMINED ON THE BASIS OF ALL THE FACTS THAT THE VEHICLE WAS NOT BEING USED ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT. WE WILL NOT SUBSTITUTE OUR JUDGMENT FOR THAT OF THE RESPONSIBLE FINANCIAL OFFICIALS IN VIEW OF THE COMPLICATED FACTUAL SITUATION AND THE NATURE OF THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED.

WE CONSIDER CLAIMS ON THE BASIS OF THE WRITTEN RECORD. WE HAVE CONSIDERED THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED IN THIS CASE AND THE ARGUMENTS MADE BY THE CLAIMANT IN SUPPORT OF HIS ENTITLEMENT. HOWEVER, WE DO NOT FIND THAT HE HAS DEMONSTRATED THE ACTION OF THE NAVY IN DISALLOWING HIS CLAIM TO BE UNREASONABLE IN VIEW OF ALL THE FACTS.

ACCORDINGLY, THE CLAIMS GROUP SETTLEMENT IS SUSTAINED.