B-153981, MAY 27, 1964

B-153981: May 27, 1964

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DALTON: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTERS OF APRIL 7. DALTON AS YOUR DEPENDENT WIFE WERE MADE COMMENCING FEBRUARY 1. DEDUCTIONS AT THE RATE OF $22 PER MONTH TOWARD THESE PAYMENTS WERE MADE FROM YOUR PAY DURING THE PERIOD FROM FEBRUARY 1943 THROUGH NOVEMBER 1944. STATED THAT FAMILY ALLOWANCE PAYMENTS ON BEHALF OF LYDA ORA DALTON HAD BEEN DISCONTINUED BECAUSE EVIDENCE HAD BEEN RECEIVED SHOWING YOUR MARRIAGE WAS NOT VALID. WAS MADE TO YOU BY SETTLEMENT DATED JULY 18. YOUR FURTHER CLAIM WAS FOR INTEREST ON THAT AMOUNT FOR THE PERIOD FROM DATE OF DISCHARGE. WHICH CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED FOR THE REASON THAT THE UNITED STATES IS NOT LIABLE FOR PAYMENT OF INTEREST ON CLAIMS AGAINST IT. EXCEPT IN CASES WHERE THE GOVERNMENT STIPULATES IT WILL PAY INTEREST OR WHERE INTEREST IS SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY AN ACT OF CONGRESS.

B-153981, MAY 27, 1964

TO MR. WILLIAM H. DALTON:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTERS OF APRIL 7, 8 AND 23, AND MAY 14, 1964, REQUESTING REVIEW OF OUR SETTLEMENT OF APRIL 6, 1964, WHICH DISALLOWED YOUR CLAIM FOR INTEREST BELIEVED TO BE DUE ON THE AMOUNT REFUNDED TO YOU AS FAMILY ALLOWANCE CONTRIBUTIONS MADE BY YOU WHILE ON ACTIVE DUTY AS A MEMBER OF THE ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES FROM FEBRUARY 1, 1943, TO NOVEMBER 17, 1945.

FAMILY ALLOWANCE PAYMENTS AT THE REQUEST OF LYDA O. DALTON AS YOUR DEPENDENT WIFE WERE MADE COMMENCING FEBRUARY 1, 1943, AND DEDUCTIONS AT THE RATE OF $22 PER MONTH TOWARD THESE PAYMENTS WERE MADE FROM YOUR PAY DURING THE PERIOD FROM FEBRUARY 1943 THROUGH NOVEMBER 1944. A LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 21, 1944, FROM THE OFFICE OF DEPENDENCY BENEFITS, WAR DEPARTMENT, CONCERNING THE APPLICATION FOR FAMILY ALLOWANCE BENEFITS BASED ON YOUR MILITARY SERVICE, STATED THAT FAMILY ALLOWANCE PAYMENTS ON BEHALF OF LYDA ORA DALTON HAD BEEN DISCONTINUED BECAUSE EVIDENCE HAD BEEN RECEIVED SHOWING YOUR MARRIAGE WAS NOT VALID, SINCE YOU HAD BEEN LEGALLY MARRIED TO ANOTHER WOMAN. ALTHOUGH THE OVERPAYMENTS HAD NOT BEEN COLLECTED, REFUND OF DEDUCTIONS FROM YOUR PAY, IN THE AMOUNT OF $484, WAS MADE TO YOU BY SETTLEMENT DATED JULY 18, 1962. YOUR FURTHER CLAIM WAS FOR INTEREST ON THAT AMOUNT FOR THE PERIOD FROM DATE OF DISCHARGE, NOVEMBER 17, 1945, WHICH CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED FOR THE REASON THAT THE UNITED STATES IS NOT LIABLE FOR PAYMENT OF INTEREST ON CLAIMS AGAINST IT, EXCEPT IN CASES WHERE THE GOVERNMENT STIPULATES IT WILL PAY INTEREST OR WHERE INTEREST IS SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY AN ACT OF CONGRESS.

IN YOUR RECENT LETTER REQUESTING RECONSIDERATION OF YOUR CLAIM YOU STATE THAT THE CASES CITED IN OUR DISALLOWANCE OF APRIL 6, 1964, DID NOT APPLY SINCE YOUR CLAIM IS FOR INTEREST ON ACCOUNT OF PAY TAKEN FROM YOU DUE TO AN ERROR MADE BY THE GOVERNMENT AND DOES NOT COME UNDER THE CONTRACT OR TORT OBLIGATION SITUATIONS INVOLVED IN THOSE CASES.

THE RULING OF THE SUPREME COURT IN THE CASE OF ANGARICA V. BAYARD, 127 U.S. 251, REFERRED TO IN OUR DISALLOWANCE, HELD THAT THE UNITED STATES IS NOT LIABLE TO PAY INTEREST ON CLAIMS AGAINST IT IN THE ABSENCE OF AN EXPRESS STATUTORY PROVISION TO THAT EFFECT, NOT ONLY ON CONTRACT OR TORT OBLIGATIONS BUT ALSO ON CLAIMS WHICH ARISE IN THE ORDINARY BUSINESS OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE FUNCTION OF THE GOVERNMENT. THAT GENERAL RULE HAS BEEN REPEATEDLY RESTATED BY THE COURTS AND HAS NEVER BEEN REVERSED. IN A MORE RECENT CASE, GRAY V. DUKEDOM BANK, 216 F.2D, 108-110 (OCTOBER 16, 1954), IT WAS STATED IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"INTEREST ON CLAIMS AGAINST THE UNITED STATES, EVEN WHERE PAYMENT HAS BEEN UNREASONABLY DELAYED, DOES NOT FOLLOW AUTOMATICALLY UPON THE ALLOWANCE OF THE CLAIM. IN THE ABSENCE OF CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS INTEREST CAN BE RECOVERED AGAINST THE UNITED STATES ONLY IF EXPRESS CONSENT TO SUCH A RECOVER HAS BEEN GIVEN BY CONGRESS. * * *.'

THIS IS BASED ON THE COMMON LAW RULE THAT DELAY OR DEFAULT IN PAYMENT CANNOT BE ATTRIBUTED TO THE SOVEREIGN. UNITED STATES V. NORTH CAROLINA, 136 U.S. 211. SO RIGOROUSLY HAS THE RULE BEEN APPLIED THAT IN THE CASE OF UNITED STATES V. VERDIER, 164 U.S. 213, 218-219, IT WAS HELD THAT IN THE ADJUSTMENT OF MUTUAL CLAIMS BETWEEN AN INDIVIDUAL AND THE UNITED STATES THE GOVERNMENT WAS ENTITLED TO INTEREST ON ITS CREDITS ALTHOUGH RELIEVED FROM THE PAYMENT OF INTEREST ON THE CHARGES AGAINST IT.

ACCORDINGLY, SINCE IT IS WELL SETTLED THAT INTEREST ON CLAIMS AGAINST THE UNITED STATES, INCLUDING CLAIMS ARISING UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES SUCH AS THOSE INVOLVED IN YOUR CASE, MAY BE PAID ONLY UNDER A CONTRACT SPECIFICALLY PROVIDING FOR PAYMENT OF INTEREST, OR BY AN ACT OF CONGRESS EXPRESSLY PROVIDING THEREFOR, AND AS NO SUCH CONDITIONS PERTAIN TO YOUR CASE, THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE PAYMENT OF YOUR CLAIM FOR INTEREST. THE DISALLOWANCE OF APRIL 6, 1964, IS THEREFORE SUSTAINED.