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PRIVATE PROPERTY LOST IN MILITARY SERVICE - CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE THERE IS NO AUTHORITY OF LAW UNDER WHICH A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE ARMY MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR PRIVATE PROPERTY DESTROYED IN AN AIRPLANE ACCIDENT. WHEN HE WAS EN ROUTE FROM DAYTON. THE CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED ON THE GROUND THAT THERE WAS NO APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR THE REIMBURSEMENT OF CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE ARMY FOR THE VALUE OF PRIVATE PROPERTY LOST IN THE DESTRUCTION OF AN AIRPLANE ON WHICH EMPLOYED. CLAIMANT WAS PROCEEDING FROM DAYTON. A LANDING WAS MADE AT MOUNDSVILLE. PRESUMABLY IT WAS DESTROYED BY FIRE BECAUSE CLAIMANT ALLEGES THAT HE LOST A HANDBAG CONTAINING ARTICLES OF CLOTHING AND TOLLS OF THE VALUE OF $186.50.

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SEPTEMBER 25, 1923, 3 COMP. GEN. 160

PRIVATE PROPERTY LOST IN MILITARY SERVICE - CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE THERE IS NO AUTHORITY OF LAW UNDER WHICH A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE ARMY MAY BE REIMBURSED FOR PRIVATE PROPERTY DESTROYED IN AN AIRPLANE ACCIDENT, THE RIGHT TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR LOSS OR DESTRUCTION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, 41 STAT., 1436, BEING LIMITED TO OFFICERS, ENLISTED MEN, AND MEMBERS OF THE NURSE CORPS (FEMALE), AND UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 2, 1923, 42 STAT., 1377, BEING LIMITED TO PERSONS UNCONNECTED WITH THE ARMY ITSELF.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, SEPTEMBER 25, 1923:

MAX E. CORNWELL REQUESTED SEPTEMBER 10, 1923, REVIEW OF SETTLEMENT NO. W- 865669 DATED NOVEMBER 25, 1922, DISALLOWING HIS CLAIM FOR $186.50, AS REIMBURSEMENT OF THE VALUE OF PRIVATE PROPERTY LOST IN THE DESTRUCTION OF AN AIRPLANE AT MOUNDSVILLE, W.VA., ON JULY 10, 1921, WHEN HE WAS EN ROUTE FROM DAYTON, OHIO, TO HAMPTON, VA., ABOARD THE AIRPLANE AS AN AVIATION MECHANICIAN. THE CLAIM WAS DISALLOWED ON THE GROUND THAT THERE WAS NO APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR THE REIMBURSEMENT OF CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE ARMY FOR THE VALUE OF PRIVATE PROPERTY LOST IN THE DESTRUCTION OF AN AIRPLANE ON WHICH EMPLOYED.

CLAIMANT WAS PROCEEDING FROM DAYTON, OHIO, TO HAMPTON, VA., PURSUANT TO ORDERS DATED JULY 9, 1921, AS A CIVILIAN AVIATION MECHANICIAN ABOARD AN AIRPLANE; A LANDING WAS MADE AT MOUNDSVILLE, W.VA., ON JULY 10, AND IN TAKING OFF THE AIRPLANE CRASHED. PRESUMABLY IT WAS DESTROYED BY FIRE BECAUSE CLAIMANT ALLEGES THAT HE LOST A HANDBAG CONTAINING ARTICLES OF CLOTHING AND TOLLS OF THE VALUE OF $186.50, FOR WHICH REIMBURSEMENT IS SOUGHT FROM THE UNITED STATES.

IT IS CONCEDED THAT THE ACT OF MARCH 4, 1921, 41 STAT., 1436, AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS THEREIN SPECIFIED OF THE VALUE OF PRIVATE PROPERTY LOST BY OFFICERS, ENLISTED MEN, AND MEMBERS OF THE NURSE CORPS (FEMALE) OF THE ARMY IS NOT APPLICABLE, 13 COMP. DEC., 782; 26 ID., 349, BUT IT IS CONTENDED THAT REIMBURSEMENT IS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE ACT OF MARCH 2, 1923, 42 STAT., 1377, MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE MILITARY AND NONMILITARY ACTIVITIES OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT WHICH PROVIDES, PAGE 1398, THAT:

* * * CLAIMS NOT EXCEEDING $250 IN AMOUNT FOR DAMAGES TO PERSONS AND PRIVATE PROPERTY RESULTING FROM OPERATIONS OF AIRCRAFT AT HOME AND ABROAD MAY BE SETTLED OUT OF FUNDS APPROPRIATED HEREUNDER WHEN EACH CLAIM IS SUBSTANTIATED BY A SURVEY REPORT OF A BOARD OF OFFICERS APPOINTED BY THE COMMANDING OFFICER OF THE NEAREST AVIATION POST AND APPROVED BY THE CHIEF OF AIR SERVICE AND THE SECRETARY OF WAR: * * *

THE CHIEF OF AIR SERVICE AND THE SECRETARY OF WAR REFUSED TO APPROVE THE FINDING OF THE BOARD OF OFFICERS THAT CLAIMANT SHOULD BE REIMBURSED $186.50 FOR THE VALUE OF HIS PRIVATE PROPERTY LOST IN THE DESTRUCTION OF THE AIRPLANE ON THE GROUND THAT THE CLAIM WAS NOT WITHIN THE TERMS OF THE ACT OF MARCH 2, 1923, PROVIDING FUNDS FOR THE PAYMENT OF DAMAGES RESULTING FROM THE OPERATION OF AIRCRAFT. THE CONCLUSION THAT CLAIMANT AS A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE ARMY IS NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FROM FUNDS APPROPRIATED FOR PAYMENT OF DAMAGE TO REIMBURSEMENT FROM FUNDS APPROPRIATED FOR PAYMENT OF DAMAGE TO AND LOSS OF PRIVATE PROPERTY GENERALLY INCIDENT TO ACTIVITIES OF THE ARMY IS IN LINE WITH UNIFORM DECISIONS OF THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS THAT SUCH PROVISIONS CONTEMPLATED PROPERTY IN THE POSSESSION OF PERSONS UNCONNECTED WITH THE ARMY ITSELF AND WITH WHICH THE ARMY ACTIVITIES ENUMERATED WOULD COME IN CONTACT ONLY EXTERNALLY. IN THE INSTANT CASE THE LOSS WAS AN INCIDENT OF THE SERVICE OF CLAIMANT AS AN AVIATION MECHANICIAN. IN ACCEPTING SUCH SERVICE HE VOLUNTARILY PLACED HIMSELF AND PERSONAL BAGGAGE UNDER THE CONTROL AND DIRECTION FOR THE JOURNEY OF THE PILOT OF THE AIRPLANE AND ASSUMED THE RISK OF ALL LOSS RESULTING FROM THE EMPLOYMENT NOT EXPRESSLY PROVIDED AGAINST BY LAW. 27 COMP. DEC., 672. SEE ALSO 26 ID., 826; 3 COMP. GEN., 22. THE FACT THAT SPECIFIC PROVISION IS NOT MADE FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE ARMY OF THE VALUE OF PRIVATE PROPERTY LOST INCIDENT TO THEIR EMPLOYMENT IN A MANNER SIMILAR TO THAT MADE FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF COMMISSIONED AND ENLISTED PERSONNEL OF THE ARMY OF THE VALUE OF PRIVATE PROPERTY LOST BY THEM UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS DOES NOT JUSTIFY CONSTRUCTION OF STATUTES INTENDED TO OPERATE IN FAVOR OF OWNERS OF PRIVATE PROPERTY IN NO MANNER CONNECTED WITH THE ARMY, TO INCLUDE SUCH CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES.

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