B-125102, SEP. 14, 1955

B-125102: Sep 14, 1955

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ATTORNEY AT LAW: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 7. YOU STATE THAT THE DEBTOR ENTERED INTO A SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT WITH A RAILROAD COMPANY IN RELIANCE UPON A REPRESENTATION BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION THAT SHE WAS ENTITLED TO THE SUM OF $10. SETTLEMENT DEMAND" AGAINST THE RAILROAD COMPANY WOULD HAVE BEEN FOR A GREATER AMOUNT. YOU FURTHER STATE THAT IT IS YOUR BELIEF THAT THE DEBTOR COULD. WE HAVE NO FACTUAL INFORMATION CONCERNING THE REFERRED-TO SETTLEMENT WITH THE RAILROAD COMPANY. THE GOVERNMENT WOULD NOT IN ANY EVENT BE BOUND BY ANY TRANSACTION THE DEBTOR MAY HAVE HAD WITH THE RAILROAD. THERE IS NO BASIS FOR THE EXCHANGE OF RELEASES. THERE IS FOR APPLICATION THE PRINCIPLE THAT THE UNITED STATES IS NOT BOUND OR ESTOPPED BY AN ERRONEOUS PAYMENT MADE BY ITS OFFICERS.

B-125102, SEP. 14, 1955

TO MR. CARL J. VOGT, ATTORNEY AT LAW:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 7, 1955, ADDRESSED TO THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION DISTRICT OFFICE, POST OFFICE BOX 8079, PHILADELPHIA 1, PENNSYLVANIA, CONCERNING AN OVERPAYMENT OF $2,879.90 TO MRS. RUTH P. CRITCHFIELD (FORMERLY RUTH COX), 3427 SYCAMORE DRIVE, STOW, OHIO, UNDER THE SERVICEMEN'S INDEMNITY ACT OF 1951 (65 STAT. 33).

YOU STATE THAT THE DEBTOR ENTERED INTO A SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT WITH A RAILROAD COMPANY IN RELIANCE UPON A REPRESENTATION BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION THAT SHE WAS ENTITLED TO THE SUM OF $10,000 UNDER THE SERVICEMEN'S INDEMNITY ACT OF 1951, AND THAT BUT FOR SUCH REPRESENTATION HER ,SETTLEMENT DEMAND" AGAINST THE RAILROAD COMPANY WOULD HAVE BEEN FOR A GREATER AMOUNT. YOU FURTHER STATE THAT IT IS YOUR BELIEF THAT THE DEBTOR COULD, THROUGH COURT PROCEEDINGS, RECOVER FROM THE UNITED STATES THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE AMOUNT OF THE DEBT AND $10,000, BUT THAT SHE WOULD BE WILLING TO FURNISH A RELEASE TO THE GOVERNMENT IN EXCHANGE FOR A RELEASE TO HER FROM THE INDEBTEDNESS.

WE HAVE NO FACTUAL INFORMATION CONCERNING THE REFERRED-TO SETTLEMENT WITH THE RAILROAD COMPANY. HOWEVER, THE GOVERNMENT WOULD NOT IN ANY EVENT BE BOUND BY ANY TRANSACTION THE DEBTOR MAY HAVE HAD WITH THE RAILROAD. ANY PAYMENTS OF INSURANCE TO THE DEBTOR COULD BE MADE ONLY PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE ABOVE ACT, AND IT HAS BEEN DETERMINED THAT SHE HAS NO ENTITLEMENT THEREUNDER. ACCORDINGLY, THERE IS NO BASIS FOR THE EXCHANGE OF RELEASES.

WITH REGARD TO THE AMOUNT PAID TO THE DEBTOR THROUGH ERROR, THERE IS FOR APPLICATION THE PRINCIPLE THAT THE UNITED STATES IS NOT BOUND OR ESTOPPED BY AN ERRONEOUS PAYMENT MADE BY ITS OFFICERS, WHETHER MADE UNDER MISTAKE OF FACT OR LAW. SEE UNITED STATES V. WURTS, 303 U.S. 414; WISCONSIN CENTRAL RAILROAD V. UNITED STATES, 164 ID. 190; UNITED STATES V. SUTTON CHEMICAL COMPANY, 11 F.2D 24, AND THE ANNOTATION APPEARING IN 63 A.L.R. 1347. IN OTHER WORDS, THE UNITED STATES IS ENTITLED TO RECOVER BACK ANY AMOUNTS ILLEGALLY OR ERRONEOUSLY PAID OUT BY ITS AGENTS.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, IT IS REQUESTED THAT MRS. CRITCHFIELD ADVISE THIS OFFICE AT AN EARLY DATE AS TO HER INTENTIONS RESPECTING PAYMENT OF THE AMOUNT DUE THE UNITED STATES.

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