B-244701, Jan 9, 1992, Office of General Counsel

B-244701: Jan 9, 1992

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While the damage generally is to be reported on the Joint Statement of Loss or Damage At Delivery (DD Form 1840/1840R). It may be reported on other forms if it is timely furnished and gives the carrier sufficient information upon which a prompt and complete investigation can be based. 2.In the shipment of a service member's household goods. Where the statement of damage at delivery on DD Form 1840 indicated that the legs of a dresser were chipped. Subsequent documentation indicated that they were broken. Notice is sufficient if it is written. Timely and contains sufficient content to alert the carrier that damage has occurred for which reparation is expected. Stated that "broken dresser bottom was noted at time of delivery.".

B-244701, Jan 9, 1992, Office of General Counsel

DIGEST: 1. To establish a prima facie case of carrier liability for damage to a shipment of household goods, the shipper must report the damage within 75 days of delivery. While the damage generally is to be reported on the Joint Statement of Loss or Damage At Delivery (DD Form 1840/1840R), it may be reported on other forms if it is timely furnished and gives the carrier sufficient information upon which a prompt and complete investigation can be based. 2.In the shipment of a service member's household goods, where the statement of damage at delivery on DD Form 1840 indicated that the legs of a dresser were chipped, but subsequent documentation indicated that they were broken, the DD Form 1840 provided adequate notice of the damage. Notice is sufficient if it is written, timely and contains sufficient content to alert the carrier that damage has occurred for which reparation is expected.

Cyndi Carroll

Customer & Traffic Services:

This letter refers to your request of June 18, 1991, for reconsideration of our Claims Group's settlement (file Z-1348910-32) holding your company liable for damage to a wooden dresser belonging to a service member, Tony L. Smith. Your company transported this dresser under Government Bill of Lading RP-221,044 and delivered it on March 13, 1989.

The Joint Statement of Loss or Damage at Delivery, DD Form 1840, noted damage using the industry's property inventory code "8923's CH," meaning "right, side, bottom, corners, chipped." The DD Form 1843 demand for damages dispatched by the member to your firm on April 10, 1989, stated that "broken dresser bottom was noted at time of delivery." In a claims analysis chart, DD Form 1844, prepared by the Air Force, the damage is described as "right bottom leg broken." There is no indication that your firm inspected the damage or that it was denied the right to do so.

You complain that the damage described on the DD Form 1844 is different than that described on the DD Form 1840, and argue that your company is liable only for damage described on the DD Form 1840 (or 1840R). You suggest that the broken leg specified on the DD Form 1844 was new damage for which Stevens had not received timely notice (i.e., within 75 days of delivery).

The result reached by the Claims Group was correct.

A carrier's liability for damage is not necessarily limited to the damage listed on a DD Form 1840 or 1840R; in Sherwood Van Lines, 67 Comp.Gen. 211, 212-213 (1988), we held that a DD Form 1844 can be adequate to notify the carrier of additional damage within the 75-day period. Here, the DD Form 1843 was dispatched to your company little more than a month after delivery, and referred to a "Broken dresser bottom."

Moreover, although we recognize the difference in the damage descriptions in the forms involved, we also note that the description of the damage on the DD Form 1840 was the terminology of your driver, not that of the service member. The fact is that notice of a claim is adequate if it is written, timely and contains sufficient content to alert the carrier that damage has occurred for which reparation is expected. Continental Van Lines, Inc., B-216757, Aug. 14, 1985. That clearly was the case here.