Matter of: Ambassador Van Lines File: B-247429 Date: September 8, 1992

B-247429: Sep 8, 1992

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The inventory carton number in which the allegedly lost items had been packed does not relieve the carrier of liability where the carton was specified later and the record shows that the items were tendered to the carrier and packed as claimed. The member specified that the dolls were missing from inventory item 24. Ambassador complains that it was not notified until after delivery of the loss from item 24. A carrier is presumed liable for the loss of tendered items so long as notice is dispatched within 75 days after delivery. Item 24 is described on the inventory as a 3.1 cubic foot carton of dolls. The notice to Ambassador was dispatched within the required timeframe. That since 139 figurines could not have fit into item 24 Ambassador should not be held liable for their alleged loss.

Matter of: Ambassador Van Lines File: B-247429 Date: September 8, 1992

PROCUREMENT Payment/Discharge Shipment Carrier liability Burden of proof The listing of an item on the inventory constitutes evidence of its tender to a carrier for purposes of a prima facie case of carrier liability for the item's loss in transit. PROCUREMENT Payment/Discharge Shipment Carrier liability Burden of proof The failure to specify in a notice of loss, timely-dispatched to the carrier, the inventory carton number in which the allegedly lost items had been packed does not relieve the carrier of liability where the carton was specified later and the record shows that the items were tendered to the carrier and packed as claimed.

DECISION

Ambassador Van Lines requests review of our Claims Group's settlement denying Ambassador's claim for refund of $5,414.63 set off from funds otherwise due the carrier for damage to an Air Force member's household goods. [1] We affirm the settlement.

After delivery, the member filed a Notice of Loss or Damage, DD Form 1840R, with the Air Force that advised of missing dolls and figurines (among other things). In the notice, the member specified that the dolls were missing from inventory item 24, but did not specify an inventory item number for the figurines. The Air Force timely dispatched the notice to the carrier, and subsequently set off against Ambassador $5,414.63 for the items; at some point the member identified the figurines as having been packed in inventory items 34, 50, 51 and 59. Our Claims Group endorsed the set-off in its settlement.

In requesting further review, Ambassador complains that it was not notified until after delivery of the loss from item 24. The carrier suggests that the shipper either never tendered the dolls to the carrier, or in fact received and unpacked them.

We find no merit to Ambassador's argument. According to the Military- Industry Memorandum of Understanding, a carrier is presumed liable for the loss of tendered items so long as notice is dispatched within 75 days after delivery. Item 24 is described on the inventory as a 3.1 cubic foot carton of dolls, which constitutes evidence of tender to the carrier, Paul Arpin Van Lines, Inc., B-206117, Sept. 21, 1982, and the notice to Ambassador was dispatched within the required timeframe. Ambassador has offered no substantive proof to rebut the presumption of its liability.

Ambassador also complains that the Notice of Loss or Damage it received did not mention inventory items 34, 50, 51, and 59, and that since 139 figurines could not have fit into item 24 Ambassador should not be held liable for their alleged loss.

We disagree. Item 34 is described on the inventory as a carton containing small pictures, chess pieces and a lamp; [2] item 50 as a carton containing small pictures and lamp; item 51 as a carton containing small pictures and vases, and item 59 as a carton of dolls. Although the descriptions thus do not specify "figurines," we have held that a carrier is liable for items claimed lost from a carton that do not exactly fit the carton's inventory description where it would not have been unusual to pack those items in that carton, particularly where (as here) the carrier did the packing and prepared the inventory list. See Carlyle Brothers Forwarding Co., B-247442, Mar. 16, 1992.

Ambassador does not suggest that it is unreasonable to conclude from the carrier's inventory descriptions of the cartons in issue that they contained figurines. Moreover, the government official who inspected the shipment shortly after delivery[3] noted that those four cartons were labeled "fragile," which would be consistent with the contents being figurines. Finally, the 139 figurines are listed separate from the item 24 goods on the DD Form 1840R, so that Ambassador's suggestion that they could not have fit into that carton is irrelevant. In our view, the failure to specify the figurines' carton numbers in the timely-dispatched notice of loss and damage does not relieve Ambassador of liability for the loss.

The Claims Group's settlement is affirmed.

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

Subject: Ambassador Van Lines (Z-2862212-6) (B-247429)

Returned is Claims File Z-2862212-6 and a copy of our decision affirming your settlement.

1. The shipment moved under Government Bill of Lading PP-658,660.

2. The precise description is "sm pictures chest peices lamp."

3. The record shows that Ambassador did not exercise its own right to inspect.