Matter of: Suddath Van Lines File: B-246907 Date: September 28, 1992

B-246907: Sep 28, 1992

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Notification was dispatched in a timely manner and carrier was properly held liable for later-claimed damages. PROCUREMENT Payment/Discharge Shipment Damages Carrier liability Presumptions Proper notice of later-discovered losses from a shipment of a military member's household goods overcomes the presumption of correct delivery even though the member did not identify lost items when the goods were delivered. Listing items claimed to have been lost or damaged during shipping. Or 91 days after the household goods were delivered. It is obvious that the Air Force did not dispatch DD Form 1840R within the 75-day period allowed by the Joint Military/Industry Memorandum of Understanding to establish a prima facie case of carrier liability.

Matter of: Suddath Van Lines File: B-246907 Date: September 28, 1992

PROCUREMENT Payment/Discharge Shipment Damages Notification Deadlines Military-Industry Memorandum of Understanding governing claims for loss or damage to household goods directs that form notifying carrier of damages discovered after delivery must be dispatched by agency not later than 75 days following delivery. Where claims officer signed and dated form on 71st day after delivery, notification was dispatched in a timely manner and carrier was properly held liable for later-claimed damages. PROCUREMENT Payment/Discharge Shipment Damages Carrier liability Presumptions Proper notice of later-discovered losses from a shipment of a military member's household goods overcomes the presumption of correct delivery even though the member did not identify lost items when the goods were delivered.

DECISION

Suddath Van Lines requests review of our Claims Group's settlement denying it a refund of $1,663.24, set off by the Air Force from other funds due Suddath, for loss and damage to the household goods of an Air Force member. [1] We affirm the Claims Group's decision.

Suddath delivered the member's household goods on September 5, 1989. The member did not note any loss or damage to the household goods at the time of delivery. However, the member subsequently filed DD Form 1840R (Notice of Loss or Damage) with the Air Force, listing items claimed to have been lost or damaged during shipping. According to the date on the form, the Air Force dispatched it to the carrier on November 15, 71 days following delivery.

Subsequently, the member submitted a claim to the Air Force for the missing and damaged household goods. Ultimately, the Air Force settled the claim with the member and set off $1,945.19 from amounts otherwise due Suddath. Suddath appealed to our Claims Group for a refund of $1,663.24 relating to the household goods claimed as missing. Our Claims Group endorsed the Air Force's action in its settlement.

In requesting further review, Suddath contends that it did not receive notice of loss or damage until December 5, or 91 days after the household goods were delivered. Suddath contends that, allowing a normal amount of time for the United States Post Office to deliver the mail, it is obvious that the Air Force did not dispatch DD Form 1840R within the 75-day period allowed by the Joint Military/Industry Memorandum of Understanding to establish a prima facie case of carrier liability.

The DD Form 1840R shows that it was both signed and dispatched by the claims officer on November 15, 71 days after delivery. We have recently held that the dispatch date entered on the form by the claims officer is controlling for purposes of the 75-day notice period. National Forwarding Co., Inc., B-238982.4, June 25, 1992. There is noting in the record showing that the claims officer did not dispatch the notice on November 15.

Suddath also argues that it is entitled to a refund because of the number of items of household goods that were later claimed as missing by the member. Suddath points out that there are 23 line items listed on the DD Form 1840R as lost during shipping. Suddath contends that the member should have noticed that such a large part of his shipment was missing at the time of delivery and would have marked the DD Form 1840 given to him by the driver accordingly. Suddath claims that the member personally checked off each item as having been delivered to his new home on inventory forms supplied by the driver.

We are not persuaded by Suddath's arguments. We have held that, under the ground rules set forth in the Joint Military/Industry Memorandum of Understanding, proper notice of later-discovered loss or damage overcomes the presumption of the correctness of the delivery even where the member did not identify lost items when the households goods were delivered. See National Forwarding Co., Inc., B-238982, June 22, 1990. Even though the number of items later claimed as missing is large, we apply the same rule here in the absence of any evidence that the member made a false statement of loss or damage.

The Claim Group's settlement is affirmed.

Date: To: Director, Claims Group/GGD - Sharon S. Green From: General Counsel - James F. Hinchman

Subject: Suddath Van Lines--Appeal of Settlement No. Z-223409-48

Returned is Claims File No. Z-223409-48 and a copy of decision B-246907 of today's date, affirming the Claims Group's actions.

Resource Protection Consultants P.O. Box 3417 Tampa, Florida 33601-3417

Attn: Mr. Bobby L. Cates

Gentlemen:

As requested in your appeal of our Claims Group's settlement Z-223490-48 involving Suddath Van Lines, we are returning the attachments to your letter.

1. The shipment moved under Government Bill of Lading TP-162,105.