Matter of: Air Land Forwarders, Inc. File: B-247731 Date: September 21, 1992

B-247731: Sep 21, 1992

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Notification was dispatched in a timely manner and carrier properly was held liable for claimed damages. The member did not identify any items that were lost or damaged on the DD Form 1840 (Joint Statement of Loss or Damage) supplied by the carrier's driver. Air Land argues that it did not receive notice of loss or damage until almost 3 years after the household goods were delivered. Inserted a dispatch date that was well within the 75-day limit. Points out that the member's signature on the DD Form 1840 sent by the Navy with its demand for reimbursement is not the same as the signature on Air Land's DD Form 1840. Air Land notes that the post office box number in the "Name and Address" box of the DD Form 1840 sent to Air Land by the Navy is not correct.

Matter of: Air Land Forwarders, Inc. File: B-247731 Date: September 21, 1992

PROCUREMENT Payment/Discharge Shipment Damages Notification Military-Industry Memorandum of Understanding governing claims for loss or damage to household goods directs that notification of damages discovered after delivery must be dispatched by agency not later than 75 days following delivery. Where claims officer signed and dated notification on 59th day, notification was dispatched in a timely manner and carrier properly was held liable for claimed damages.

DECISION

Air Land Forwarders, Inc., requests review of our Claims Group's settlement denying the company a refund of $1,100.55 set off by the Navy from funds otherwise due the carrier for loss and damage to a Navy member's household goods. [1] We affirm the settlement.

Air Land picked up the member's household goods on June 30, 1986, at Albuquerque, New Mexico, and delivered them to Thousand Oaks, California, on July 21. At the time of delivery, the member did not identify any items that were lost or damaged on the DD Form 1840 (Joint Statement of Loss or Damage) supplied by the carrier's driver. However, on September 17, the member filed a DD Form 1840, a DD Form 1840R (Notice of Loss or Damage), and three handwritten pages (entitled "Statement of Loss or Damage") with the Navy listing a number of items of household goods that the member discovered had been damaged during shipping. According to the filed forms, the Navy dispatched the notices to the carrier on September 18.

Subsequently, the member submitted a claim to the Navy for the damage to his household goods. Ultimately, the Navy settled the member's claim, and asserted a demand against Air Land. When Air Land did not pay, the Navy set off against Air Land $1,100.55 from amounts otherwise due the firm. Our Claims Group endorsed the Navy's action in its settlement.

In requesting further review, Air Land argues that it did not receive notice of loss or damage until almost 3 years after the household goods were delivered, well beyond the 75-day period allowed by the Joint Military/Industry Memorandum of Understanding to establish a prima facie case of carrier liability. Air Land suggests that the Navy actually prepared and sent the notice late, but inserted a dispatch date that was well within the 75-day limit. In support of its argument, Air Land has submitted a copy of the DD Form 1840 executed at delivery showing no damage to the shipment, and points out that the member's signature on the DD Form 1840 sent by the Navy with its demand for reimbursement is not the same as the signature on Air Land's DD Form 1840. Furthermore, Air Land notes that the post office box number in the "Name and Address" box of the DD Form 1840 sent to Air Land by the Navy is not correct.

Notwithstanding when Air Land says it received notice of the damage, the forms sent to the carrier specify that they were dispatched on September 18--just 59 days after delivery. We have held that the dispatch date entered on the notice by the claims officer is controlling for purposes of the 75-day notice period. National Forwarding Co., Inc., B-238982.4, June 25, 1992.

Moreover, we have no reason to believe that the claims officer did not, in fact, dispatch notice on the date stated on the form. We do not agree that the fact that there are different signatures on the driver's copy of the delivery DD Form 1840 and the later-dispatched notices establishes improper action on the Navy's part. In any case, our examination of the record shows that although it is unclear who signed the delivery DD Form 1840 (for example, the member's spouse), the member's signature on the later-sent notices is authentic.[2]

Concerning Air Land's charge that the DD Form 1840 was sent to an incorrect post office box number, the Government Bill of Lading (GBL) for the shipment named "Air Land Forwarders-Suddath" as the transportation company. Air Land apparently was affiliated with Suddath Van Lines regarding this shipment, and the Navy sent the notification to Suddath's post office box and address. In our view, that was adequate, timely notice.

The Claim Group's settlement is affirmed.

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

Subject: Air Land Forwarders, Inc.--Appeal of Settlement No. Z-223409-73 (B-247731)

Returned is Claims File No. Z-223409-73 and a copy of our decision B-247731 of today's date, affirming the Claims Group's settlement.

1. The shipment moved under Government Bill of Lading DP-527,056.

2. They are the same as the signatures on a number of letters in the record that were sent by the member to the Navy in negotiating the settlement of his claim.