B-241425, Jan 17, 1991, 90-2 CPD ***

B-241425: Jan 17, 1991

Additional Materials:

Contact:

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

 

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

PROCUREMENT - Payment/Discharge - Shipment - Damages - Evidence sufficiency DIGEST: A carrier is not responsible for damage to a shipment caused solely by the operation of natural laws. To relieve the carrier of liability for damage to the finish of two items of furniture simply because no other furniture was damaged. Where the carrier packed the items and the damage was caused by the packing material sticking to the finish. Inc.: This is an appeal from a Claims Group decision. The cost was based upon an estimate furnished by the member to remove packing materials that had adhered to the furniture's finish. The carrier reiterates its already rejected claim that it is not liable for such damage since other furniture in the moving truck packed with the same packing material had no damage.

B-241425, Jan 17, 1991, 90-2 CPD ***

PROCUREMENT - Payment/Discharge - Shipment - Damages - Evidence sufficiency DIGEST: A carrier is not responsible for damage to a shipment caused solely by the operation of natural laws, under the exception to a carrier's liability for damage resulting from "the inherent vice or nature" of the item. The exception does not apply, however, to relieve the carrier of liability for damage to the finish of two items of furniture simply because no other furniture was damaged, where the carrier packed the items and the damage was caused by the packing material sticking to the finish.

Senate Forwarding, Inc.:

This is an appeal from a Claims Group decision. The Marine Corps, in an action endorsed by our Claims Group, set off $138 from money due Senate Forwarding, Inc. (formerly Sentry Household Shipping), as the cost to refinish a member's dining room table and 2 chairs damaged in a Code 4 shipment (.60/lb. x net weight) from Hawaii to Rhode Island. The cost was based upon an estimate furnished by the member to remove packing materials that had adhered to the furniture's finish, repair the damage, and clean heavy mildew on the chairs' upholstered seats.

Claims held that the agency had established a prima facie case, and that the carrier had failed to rebut. Claims noted that the carrier had packed the furniture, and that the damage obviously resulted from contact with the packing material.

The carrier reiterates its already rejected claim that it is not liable for such damage since other furniture in the moving truck packed with the same packing material had no damage, so that the finish, not the packing material, must have caused the problem.

LAW:

Numerous cases, as well as Army Regulation 27-20 Para. 11-25, provide that a prim facie case against a carrier is established when evidence shows delivery of an item to a carrier in good condition and return of the item in damaged condition. The burden of proof is on the carrier to show that the damage was caused by 1 of 5 excepted causes, including the "inherent vice" of the article, which applies where there is something inherent in the item that leads to damage without any outside influence other than the laws of nature. Aalmode Transportation Corp., B-237658, Feb. 12, 1990. In Aalmode, under similar facts, we held that the carrier was liable for damage caused by packing material adhering to furniture finish where the carrier failed to show that there was anything about the furniture finish that led to the problem, and also failed to refute the suggestion that the packing material or its application by the carrier was not itself poor. Claims cited Aalmode in its settlement decision.

FINDINGS:

This case is almost exactly like Aalmode. The carrier packed; contact with the material caused the damage; and the carrier's mere claim that the furniture finish must have been defective is insufficient to rebut the prima facie case.

CONCLUSION:

The Claims Group's decision is affirmed.

Ms. Cheryl Hughes

Claims Hughes

Senate Forwarding, Inc. (SHBP):

This responds to your August 20, 1990, appeal of our Claims Group's decision in Z-2793472, which involved the shipment of household goods of Marine Corps member J.A. Mitchell.

Upon review of the record, we find no error of law or fact in the Claims Group's decision. Accordingly, that decision is affirmed.

Director, Claims Group/GGD - Sharon S. Green

General Counsel - James F. Hinchman

Senate Forwarding, Inc. (B-241425; Z-2793472)

Returned is Claims File Z-2793472 and a copy of letter B-241425 of today's date, affirming the Claims Group's action.