B-23802, MARCH 28, 1942, 21 COMP. GEN. 894

B-23802: Mar 28, 1942

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YOUR ADVANCE DECISION IS REQUESTED UNDER AUTHORITY OF THE ACT JULY 31. THE SERVICE WAS RENDERED TO THE UNITED STATES BY THE TRANSPORTATION COMPANY UNDER PURCHASE ORDER QM-1521. THE PAPERS ACCOMPANYING THE VOUCHER SHOW THAT THE TRANSPORTATION SERVICE WAS RENDERED AS CLAIMED. EXCEPTION WAS MADE AS TO CERTAIN DAMAGED ARTICLES WHICH BECAME THE SUBJECT OF A CLAIM BY THE OWNER. THE FACTS IN THIS CASE ARE SOMEWHAT SIMILAR TO THOSE OF THE CASE OF THE J. WHICH WAS THE SUBJECT OF AN ADVANCE DECISION (B-14598) RENDERED BY YOU TO THE UNDERSIGNED. WHICH DECISION HELD THAT PAYMENT MIGHT BE MADE IN THAT CASE REGARDLESS OF THE DOUBTS OF THE UNDERSIGNED IF PAYMENT WAS WARRANTED IN OTHER RESPECTS. I FEEL THAT AN IMPORTANT QUESTION IS INVOLVED IN THE PRESENT CASE.

B-23802, MARCH 28, 1942, 21 COMP. GEN. 894

DAMAGE IN TRANSIT TO PRIVATE PROPERTY OF MILITARY PERSONNEL - EFFECT ON PAYMENTS TO CARRIERS PAYMENTS OTHERWISE DUE A MOTOR CARRIER UNDER A CONTRACT WITH THE UNITED STATES FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE PERSONAL EFFECTS OF AN ARMY OFFICER MAY BE MADE IN FULL WITHOUT WITHHOLDING ANY AMOUNT REPRESENTING ALLEGED DAMAGE TO THE EFFECTS IN TRANSIT, NOTWITHSTANDING THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE OFFICER MAY LATER ASSERT A CLAIM AGAINST THE UNITED STATES UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, FOR THE AMOUNT OF HIS DAMAGE IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT RECOVERABLE FROM THE CARRIER.

ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO COL. F. J. KEELTY, U.S. ARMY, MARCH 28, 1942:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 8, 1942, WITH ENCLOSURES, AS FOLLOWS:

1. FOR REASONS HEREINAFTER STATED, YOUR ADVANCE DECISION IS REQUESTED UNDER AUTHORITY OF THE ACT JULY 31, 1894 (28 STAT. 208) OF THE QUESTION WHETHER I AM AUTHORIZED TO PAY THE ENCLOSED VOUCHER, WHICH HAS BEEN SUBMITTED TO ME AS A DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE UNITED STATES FOR PAYMENT IN FAVOR OF GREYVAN LINES, INC., OF 1338 SOUTH MICHIGAN AVENUE, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, IN THE NET SUM OF $246.01 COVERING THE TRANSPORTATION BY MOTOR VAN OF THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND PROFESSIONAL BOOKS OF MASTER SERGEANT (2ND LIEUTENANT) CLYDE B. HAMLIN, NO. 6205299, 2ND TRANSPORT SQUADRON, AIR CORPS, UPON RETIREMENT FROM THE ACTIVE LIST OF THE ARMY, AS AUTHORIZED AND DIRECTED IN PARAGRAPH 21 OF SPECIAL ORDERS 226, WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPTEMBER 24, 1940 (COPY HEREWITH). THE SERVICE WAS RENDERED TO THE UNITED STATES BY THE TRANSPORTATION COMPANY UNDER PURCHASE ORDER QM-1521, ISSUED BY THE PURCHASING AND CONTRACTING OFFICER, MIDDLETOWN AIR DEPOT, MIDDLETOWN, PENNSYLVANIA, ON FEBRUARY 21, 1941. THE RELEVANT FACTS GIVING RISE TO MY DOUBT IN THE PREMISES MAY BE STATED AS FOLLOWS:

2. THE PAPERS ACCOMPANYING THE VOUCHER SHOW THAT THE TRANSPORTATION SERVICE WAS RENDERED AS CLAIMED, BUT THAT AFTER DELIVERY AT THE DESTINATION, EXCEPTION WAS MADE AS TO CERTAIN DAMAGED ARTICLES WHICH BECAME THE SUBJECT OF A CLAIM BY THE OWNER, LIEUTENANT HAMLIN, AGAINST THE CONTRACTOR AS DISCLOSED BY THESE PAPERS, TOTAL AMOUNT OF THE CLAIM BEING SHOWN IN THESE PAPERS AS $52.50 (SEE LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 6, 1941, ADDRESSED BY THE QUARTERMASTER, MIDDLETOWN AIR DEPOT TO GREYVAN LINES, INC.)

3. THE UNDERSIGNED HAS UNDERTAKEN TO PROCURE A SETTLEMENT BETWEEN THE OFFICER AND THE SHIPPER TO THE END THAT PAYMENT IN THE NET SUM DUE THE TRANSPORTATION COMPANY COULD BE MADE, BUT THE VAN COMPANY HAS DECLINED TO MAKE SETTLEMENT, AND HAS SUGGESTED IN ITS LETTER OF AUGUST 29, 1941 IN THIS FILE, THAT I TRANSMIT THE CLAIM TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE FOR SETTLEMENT IF I DO NOT FEEL WARRANTED IN MAKING PAYMENT THEREOF.

4. THE FACTS IN THIS CASE ARE SOMEWHAT SIMILAR TO THOSE OF THE CASE OF THE J. NORMAN VAN GEIPE LINES AND FIREPROOF STORAGE WAREHOUSES, WHICH WAS THE SUBJECT OF AN ADVANCE DECISION (B-14598) RENDERED BY YOU TO THE UNDERSIGNED, ON FEBRUARY 17, 1941, WHICH DECISION HELD THAT PAYMENT MIGHT BE MADE IN THAT CASE REGARDLESS OF THE DOUBTS OF THE UNDERSIGNED IF PAYMENT WAS WARRANTED IN OTHER RESPECTS. HOWEVER, I FEEL THAT AN IMPORTANT QUESTION IS INVOLVED IN THE PRESENT CASE, AND WHICH WAS NOT EXPRESSLY DECIDED IN THE ADVANCE DECISION ABOVE CITED, WHICH QUESTION GROWS OUT OF CONSIDERATIONS HEREINAFTER STATED AND GIVES RISE TO MY DOUBT AS TO THE PROPER OR LAWFUL JUSTIFICATION FOR FULL PAYMENT OF A VAN CONTRACTOR WHO HAS DAMAGED PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE OWNER FOR WHICH THE UNITED STATES IS RESPONSIBLE UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921 (41 STAT. 1436). THESE CONSIDERATIONS MAY BE STATED, BRIEFLY, AS FOLLOWS:

(A) IT IS BELIEVED TO BE FUNDAMENTAL, THAT A CONTRACT FOR SERVICES TO BE RENDERED TO THE UNITED STATES MAY NOT, OR SHOULD NOT BE PAID FOR IN FULL WHEN THERE IS RELIABLE EVIDENCE THAT THE SERVICE WAS NOT COMPLETELY OR PROPERLY PERFORMED. THIS PRINCIPLE IS EXPRESSED IN SECTION 3648 OF THE REVISED STATUTES, AND WHILE IN THE PRESENT CASE, THERE IS A CERTIFICATION ON THE VOUCHER THAT THE SERVICES HAVE BEEN PERFORMED, OTHER EVIDENCE IN THE CASE INDICATES STRONGLY THAT CERTAIN PROPERTY OF LIEUTENANT HAMLIN, WHILE BEING HAULED BY THE CONTRACTOR UNDER A CONTRACT WITH THE UNITED STATES, WAS LOST OR DAMAGED. INCIDENTALLY,THESE PAPERS SHOW THAT THE PICTURES AS TO WHICH THE GLASS WAS BROKEN WERE NOT PACKED AND CRATED, AS STATED BY THE CONTRACTOR, BUT WERE LEFT LYING ON THE TOP OF OTHER ARTICLES IN A BARREL. ALSO, THE EVIDENCE INDICATES STRONGLY THAT CERTAIN OTHER ARTICLES WERE LOST BY THE CONTRACTOR, BECAUSE THE CHECK LIST SHOWS THAT THEY HAD BEEN LOADED ON THE VAN AT THE POINT OF ACCEPTANCE.

(B) THE UNITED STATES IS LIABLE TO THE OWNER OF THE PROPERTY HERE CONCERNED UPON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A CLAIM BY HIM UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921 (41 STAT. 1436) FOR THE LOSS OR DAMAGE OF HIS PROPERTY WHEN CHANGING STATION, AND UNDER SUCH CONDITIONS, IF SUCH LOSS OR DAMAGE WAS CAUSED BY THE CARRIER, IT WOULD SEEM THAT THE VAN HAULER SHOULD NOT BE PAID IN FULL ON ITS CLAIM FOR SERVICES, NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT ITS FAULTY SERVICES WILL IN ALL PROBABILITY RESULT IN A CLAIM BEING FILED AGAINST THE UNITED STATES FOR LOSS OR DAMAGE TO THE PROPERTY THAT WAS BEING HAULED.

7. ACCORDINGLY, SOLELY IN THE INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES AND NOTWITHSTANDING THE PROVISION OF PARAGRAPH 32 C, AR 30-960, THE PRESENT CASE IS SUBMITTED FOR DECISION OF THE QUESTION WHETHER PAYMENT SHOULD BE MADE IN FULL TO THE CARRIER; OR WHETHER AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO THE APPROXIMATE OR POTENTIAL CLAIM OF THE OWNER SHOULD BE WITHHELD FROM THE CARRIER PENDING SETTLEMENT OF ANY CLAIM AGAINST THE UNITED STATES THAT MAY BE FILED BY THE OFFICER-OWNER OF THE PROPERTY DAMAGED. IN FACT, IT WOULD SEEM MOST UNFAIR TO THE UNITED STATES TO PAY IN FULL A VAN COMPANY FOR A FAULTY SERVICE, AND ALSO PAY A DAMAGE CLAIM TO AN OFFICER-OWNER OF THE PROPERTY MOVED (PAYMENT OF WHICH DAMAGE, WHEN ESTABLISHED UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1941 MUST BE MADE) WHERE THE DAMAGE RESULTED FROM A FAULTY SERVICE OF THE SAID VAN COMPANY, THEREBY MULCTING THE UNITED STATES IN THE AMOUNT OF THE ALLOWED DAMAGE CLAIM. IT IS POSSIBLE, OF COURSE, THOUGH NOT PROBABLE, THAT THE OFFICER MAY NOT FILE A CLAIM BUT IT IS SUBMITTED THAT THAT POSSIBILITY SHOULD NOT CAUSE THE UNITED STATES TO ASSUME A FINANCIAL LIABILITY IN A DOUBTFUL CASE.

ASIDE FROM OTHER IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS, DISCUSSED HEREINAFTER, IT SEEMS OBVIOUS THAT IN ANY SUIT BY A TRANSPORTATION COMPANY FOR TRANSPORTATION CHARGES CLAIMED TO BE DUE IT UNDER A CONTRACT WITH THE UNITED STATES FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE PROPERTY OF ONE IN THE MILITARY SERVICE, THE UNITED STATES WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED ANY AMOUNT BY WAY OF SET-OFF OR COUNTERCLAIM MERELY BECAUSE OF THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE OWNER OF THE PROPERTY MIGHT LATER ASSERT A CLAIM AGAINST THE UNITED STATES UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, 41 STAT. 1436, SINCE--- EVEN IF THE CLAIM WERE OTHERWISE PROPER FOR SET-OFF--- THE SUM WHICH THE UNITED STATES LATER MIGHT BE CALLED UPON TO PAY THE OWNER OF THE PROPERTY WOULD NOT BE LIQUIDATED AND COULD NOT BE DETERMINED BY THE COURT OR ANY PERSON OR AGENCY EXCEPT THE SECRETARY OF WAR. IT IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT AS A GENERAL RULE THE COURTS WILL NOT ALLOW UNLIQUIDATED CLAIMS TO BE SET OFF AND OF COURSE WHERE THE CLAIM IS NOT ONLY UNLIQUIDATED AT THE INCEPTION OF A LEGAL ACTION BUT IS NOT SUSCEPTIBLE OF EXACT DETERMINATION BY THE COURT ANY OFFSET WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED.

IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE EXPRESS TERMS OF THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, A PERSON IN THE MILITARY SERVICE ASSERTING A CLAIM UNDER THAT ACT ON ACCOUNT OF DAMAGE TO HIS PROPERTY ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN INCURRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE TRANSPORTATION OF SUCH PROPERTY BY COMMON CARRIER IS ENTITLED TO PAYMENT ONLY FOR THE AMOUNT OF HIS LOSS OR DAMAGE IN EXCESS OF THE AMOUNT RECOVERABLE FROM THE CARRIER (17 COMP. GEN. 780; B 16331, MAY 15, 1941; B- 17584, JULY 11, 1941), AND PARAGRAPH 4, ARMY REGULATIONS 35-7100, PROVIDES THAT---

* * * THE CLAIMANT (THE OWNER OF THE PROPERTY) WILL PERSONALLY MAKE DEMAND IN WRITING UPON THE LAST COMMON CARRIER HANDLING THE SHIPMENT OF PERSONAL EFFECTS FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE RESULTING LOSS OR DAMAGE WITHIN 9 MONTHS FOLLOWING THE DATE OF DELIVERY OF SAID SHIPMENT. * * *

AND SEE 15 COMP. DEC. 38, JULY 16, 1908. THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, AND ITS PREDECESSORS, WERE PASSED FOR THE BENEFIT OF PERSONS IN THE MILITARY SERVICE AND DID NOT INTEND THAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD ASSUME THE LIABILITY WHICH THE LAW IMPOSES UPON CARRIERS. THE PURPOSE OF THE STATUTE WAS TO AUTHORIZE PAYMENTS BY THE GOVERNMENT TO COVER LOSSES WHICH OTHERWISE WOULD FALL UPON MILITARY PERSONNEL, AND, GENERALLY, IT IS TO BE PRESUMED THAT ANY PAYMENTS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE STATUTE REPRESENT REIMBURSEMENT FOR SUCH LOSSES ONLY AND DO NOT COVER LOSS OR DAMAGE FOR WHICH A COMMON CARRIER COULD BE HELD RESPONSIBLE. IT THUS APPEARS THAT THE AMOUNTS WHICH THE SECRETARY OF WAR MAY DETERMINE TO BE ALLOWABLE UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, USUALLY ARE ADDITIONAL TO, AND NOT IN SUBSTITUTION FOR, AMOUNTS RECOVERABLE FROM COMMON CARRIERS, AND THAT THE MERE FACT THAT THE GOVERNMENT MAY MAKE A PAYMENT UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, IN A CASE INVOLVING TRANSPORTATION BY COMMON CARRIER, DOES NOT GIVE RISE TO ANY CAUSE OF ACTION IN FAVOR OF THE GOVERNMENT AGAINST THE CARRIER. OBVIOUSLY, IF THERE IS NO CAUSE OF ACTION, THE COURTS WOULD NOT RECOGNIZE ANY RIGHT OF SET-OFF.

THE NATURE OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND A PERSON IN THE MILITARY SERVICE WHOSE PROPERTY IS BEING SHIPPED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE IS DISCUSSED IN 18 COMP. GEN. 164, WHICH IS, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

* * * ARMY REGULATIONS HAVE REQUIRED THAT IF AN OFFICER WANTS THE GOVERNMENT TO ASSUME THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION, HE MUST TURN HIS EFFECTS OVER TO A QUARTERMASTER, IF STATIONED WHERE ONE IS AVAILABLE, FOR SHIPMENT. THE REGULATIONS HAVE FURTHER REQUIRED THE QUARTERMASTER TO SHIP THE GOODS AT RELEASED VALUATION BY THE ROUTE AND METHOD GIVING THE LOWEST RATE, SPECIFICALLY REQUIRING THE USE OF RAIL-WATER OR RAIL WATER-RAIL ROUTING WHEN AVAILABLE AT LESS COST. IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN BELIEVED THAT THIS WAS A MERE AUTHORITY TO SAVE THE OFFICER THE EXPENSE OF MOVING HIS HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS WHEN OFFICIAL BUSINESS REQUIRED THAT HE CHANGE STATIONS. * * *

THE EFFECTS ARE THE PERSONAL PROPERTY OF THE OFFICERS. THEY ARE UNDER NO DUTY OR OBLIGATION TO TURN THEM OVER TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR SHIPMENT. THEY DO SO, FROM CHOICE, TO OBTAIN THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT PAYING THE TRANSPORTATION COSTS, THEY DO SO SUBJECT TO THE STATUTE AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE MATTER, OF WHICH THEY ARE CHARGEABLE WITH NOTICE, AND, THEREFORE, ASSUME ANY ADDITIONAL RISK OR HAZARDS INCIDENT TO THE MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION REQUIRED BY THE REGULATIONS. THE GOVERNMENT WOULD APPEAR TO BE AT MOST MERELY A BAILEE OF THE PROPERTY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE BAILOR, AND, ASIDE FROM STATUTE, CONTRACTUALLY LIABLE ONLY FOR THE BREACH OF AN IMPLIED OBLIGATION TO EXERCISE ORDINARY CARE. NEITHER THE STATUTES NOR REGULATIONS PURPORT TO MAKE THE GOVERNMENT AN INSURER OF SUCH PROPERTY VOLUNTARILY BAILED TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR TRANSPORTATION FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE BAILOR. THAT SUCH PROPERTY MAY NOT LEGALLY BE VIEWED AS THE PROPERTY OF THE GOVERNMENT DURING TRANSPORTATION SEE OREGON 1WASHINGTON RAILROAD AND NAVIGATION COMPANY V. UNITED STATES, 225 U.S. 339, AND UNITED STATES V. GALVESTON, HARRISBURG AND SAN ANTONIO RAILWAY COMPANY, 279 U.S. 401, HOLDING THE GOVERNMENT NOT ENTITLED TO LAND GRANT REDUCTIONS ON SHIPMENT OF OFFICERS' EFFECTS AND PRIVATE MOUNTS TRANSPORTED AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE BECAUSE NOT THE PROPERTY OF THE UNITED STATES. * *

IN THESE CASES WHERE THE GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS FOR THE TRANSFER OF PRIVATE PROPERTY OF PERSONS IN THE MILITARY SERVICE IT HAS NEVER BEEN CONSIDERED THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS UNDER ANY OBLIGATION TO PROSECUTE THE LOSS OR DAMAGE CLAIM OF THE OWNER OF THE PROPERTY AGAINST THE CARRIER, AND THE ARMY REGULATIONS, SUPRA, REQUIRE THE OWNER PERSONALLY TO FILE HIS CLAIM WITH THE CARRIER BEFORE HE IS ENTITLED TO FAVORABLE CONSIDERATION OF HIS CLAIM UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921.

THE RECORDS YOU HAVE SUBMITTED DO NOT SHOW CLEARLY THE EXTENT OF THE PROPERTY LOSS OR DAMAGE WHICH SECOND LIEUTENANT HAMLIN CLAIMS TO HAVE SUFFERED, AND DO NOT SHOW THAT HE HAS BEEN REASONABLY DILIGENT IN PERFECTING HIS CLAIM AGAINST THE TRANSPORTATION COMPANY. AS YOU HAVE INDICATED, THERE IS NO CERTAINTY THAT HE WILL MAKE A CLAIM AGAINST THE UNITED STATES UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, AND IT IS PURELY CONJECTURAL WHETHER THE SECRETARY OF WAR WOULD ALLOW ANY PART OF HIS CLAIM IF HE DID MAKE ONE. FURTHERMORE, AS POINTED OUT ABOVE, ANY AMOUNT ALLOWED BY THE SECRETARY OF WAR PRESUMABLY WOULD BE SOMETHING IN ADDITION TO THE AMOUNTS RECOVERABLE FROM THE CARRIER AND NOT IN SUBSTITUTION THEREFOR.

ACCORDING TO THE CERTIFICATES AND RECEIPTS ACCOMPANYING YOUR SUBMISSION, THE PROPERTY OF SECOND LIEUTENANT HAMLIN ACTUALLY HAS BEEN TRANSPORTED AS CONTEMPLATED BY THE CONTRACT SUBJECT ONLY TO THE EXCEPTION NOTED ON THE RECEIPT SIGNED BY THE OWNER TO THE EFFECT THAT FOUR ITEMS WERE NOT RECEIVED AT DESTINATION IN GOOD ORDER AND CONDITION. THE QUARTERMASTER PURCHASING AND CONTRACTING OFFICER, MIDDLETOWN AIR DEPOT, HAS CERTIFIED THAT THE SERVICES CALLED FOR BY THE CONTRACT (PURCHASE ORDER QM 1521 DATED FEBRUARY 21, 1941) WITH GREYVAN LI INC., HAVE BEEN RENDERED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TERMS OF THE CONTRACT AND SPECIFICATIONS GOVERNING SAME. THE CONTRACT SHOWS THAT THE CONTRACTOR HAS POSTED AN ANNUAL PERFORMANCE BOND WITH THE QUARTERMASTER GENERAL'S OFFICE IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,000 FOR PACKING, TRANSPORTATION AND DELIVERY SERVICE. ALSO THE CONTRACT CONTAINS A PROVISION AS FOLLOWS: CARGO INSURANCE. EACH BID WILL CONTAIN A CERTIFICATE OF THE CARRIER STATING WHETHER OR NOT SAID CARRIER CARRIES CARGO INSURANCE AS SECURITY TO COMPENSATE SHIPPERS OR CONSIGNEES FOR LOSS OF OR DAMAGE TO PROPERTY BELONGING TO SHIPPERS OR CONSIGNEES AND COMING INTO THE POSSESSION OF SAID CARRIER IN CONNECTION WITH ITS TRANSPORTATION SERVICE, AND, IF CARRIED, THE AMOUNT THEREOF; THE POLICY NUMBER AND DATE; AND THE NAME AND ADDRESS OF THE COMPANY OR COMPANIES WITH WHICH SUCH INSURANCE IS CARRIED.

THERE HAS BEEN SUBMITTED A CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE AGENT OF THE CONTRACTOR WHICH IS AS OLLOWS:

CONCERNING CARGO INSURANCE AND TARIFF

CARGO INSURANCE IS CARRIED WITH NATIONAL FIRE INSURANCE CO. OF HARTFORD, CONN., POLICY NO. M-44287, 10/31/34; AND COVERS TO THE EXTENT OF ?30 PER POUND PER ARTICLE.

WE PARTICIPATE IN THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS CARRIERS' BUREAU TARIFF NO. 9.

IN CASES SUCH AS THIS IT WOULD SEEM THE OWNER OF THE PROPERTY HAS A REASONABLE ASSURANCE THAT ANY PROPERLY PROSECUTED VALID CLAIM HE MAY HAVE AGAINST THE TRANSPORTATION COMPANY WILL BE PAID, AND THERE APPEARS NO SUFFICIENT REASON FOR AUTHORIZING ANY CHANGE IN, OR EXCEPTION TO, THE LONG STANDING RULE STATED IN PARAGRAPH 32C, ARMY REGULATIONS 30 960, AS FOLLOWS:

C. PAYMENT TO CARRIER CANNOT BE WITHHELD OR SUSPENDED.--- THERE IS NO AUTHORITY OF LAW FOR WITHHOLDING MONEY DUE THE CARRIER BY THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE PURPOSE OF REIMBURSING THE OWNER FOR LOSS OR DAMAGE, NOR FOR SUSPENDING PAYMENT OF THE CARRIER'S BILL UNTIL A CLAIM IS ADJUSTED, AND REQUESTS THEREFOR WILL NOT BE MADE. SEE 15 COMP. DEC. 38.

THIS HAS BEEN THE RULE FOR MANY YEARS WHERE THE SHIPMENT IS BY A COMMON CARRIER BY RAIL, AND THE LIABILITY OF THE GOVERNMENT IN SUCH A CASE UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, IS THE SAME. NO VALID REASON IS PERCEIVED WHY THE RULE SHOULD BE OTHERWISE WHEN THE SHIPMENT IS BY MOTOR TRUCKS BY A VAN LINE.

THE VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF GREYVAN LINES, INC., IS RETURNED HEREWITH AND YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO MAKE PAYMENT THEREON, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT, WITHOUT DEDUCTION OF ANY AMOUNT ON ACCOUNT OF THE ALLEGED LOSS OF OR DAMAGE TO THE PROPERTY OF SECOND LIEUTENANT HAMLIN.