B-167253 July 15, 1969
B-167253: Jul 15, 1969
Identical awards were made in this decision to Estelle Francis Filtpiak. This claim was based on the asserterd ownership ad loss of certain property. The named awardees were native-born citizens of the United States and each owned a one-fourth interest in the subject property. The use and enjoyment of which was lost within the meaning of Article 2(b)of the Polish Claims Agreement of 1960. This sum is payable to the Secretary of State in 20 annual installments of $2. There is presently for consideration the appropriate manner for handling the payment of the claim of Barbara F. Currently there is due a payment of $539.67 on lthe award to Stephany plus $179.89 for a one-third share of the amount due on the award to Walter.
B-167253 July 15, 1969
The Honorable The Secretary of the Treasury
Dear Mr. Secretary:
On October 5, 1965, under authority of the Foreign Claims Settlement Act of 1949, as amended, 22 U.S.C. 1623(a), the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission in its decision PO-8291 awarded Stephany Swiader the principal sum of $26,050 plus interest in the amount of $2,403.04 as her share under claims No. PO-2916. Identical awards were made in this decision to Estelle Francis Filtpiak, Mitchell John Krzeninski and Walter Erseninski. This claim was based on the asserterd ownership ad loss of certain property, real and personal, located in Poland and nationalized or seized by the Polish Peoples Republic. The named awardees were native-born citizens of the United States and each owned a one-fourth interest in the subject property, the use and enjoyment of which was lost within the meaning of Article 2(b)of the Polish Claims Agreement of 1960. Under this agreement Poland agreed to pay the sum of $40,000,000 in full settlement and discharge of all claims of nationals of the United States against the Government of Poland. This sum is payable to the Secretary of State in 20 annual installments of $2,000,000. Payments commenced on January 10,1961. See S. Rept. No. 682, 89th Cong., 18.
There is presently for consideration the appropriate manner for handling the payment of the claim of Barbara F. Swiader, daughter and sole remaining heir-at-law to Stephany Swiader. The claim includes a one-third interest in the award made to Barbara's deceased uncle, Walter Krzeninski. Currently there is due a payment of $539.67 on lthe award to Stephany plus $179.89 for a one-third share of the amount due on the award to Walter. The following pertinent documents are of record:
(1) Death Certificate showing that Walter Krzeninski died on February 25, 1966, and letter of October 19,1966, stating Walter died interstate.
(2) Death Certificate showing that Stephany Swinder died on June 17, 1968;
(3) Death Certificate Showing that Frank Swiader (husband and only other heir-at-law of Stephany) died on February 6,1969;
(4) Last will and testaments of Frank and Stephany Swiader dated October 17, 1963, both of which if probated would operate to award the setate of Frank and Stephany to Barbara;
(5) Small Estate affidavits of Barbara Swiader dated October 29, 1966 and February 26, 1969, which pertain to the estate of Walter Krzeninski and Stephany Swiader, respectively.
Subsection 7(c)(1) of the International Claims Settlement Act of 1949, as amended by Public Law 90-421, approved July 24, 1968, 82 Stat. 420, povides in part that:
"***if any payment to be made is not over $1,000 and there is no qualified executor or administrator, payment may be made to the person or persons found by the Comptroller Gereral to be entitled thereto, without the necessity of compliance with the requirements of law with respect to the administration of estates***."
Prior to the enactment of Public Law 90-421, subsection 7(c)(1), 22 U.S.C. 1626(c)(1), applied to total awards--as opposed to payments--not in excess of $500. Much of the legislative history of Public Law 90-21 can be read to mean that Congress gave synonymous treatment to the terms "award" and "payment" in its consideration of this measure. On the other hand, all of that legislative history indicates that the change in the law was designed to afford "more orderly and efficient disposal of claims." See S. Rept. No. 836, 90th Cong. 7, H. Rept. No. 888, 90th Cong. 4, S. Rept. 682, 89th Cong. 8 and Hearings beforte the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, 89th Congress on S. 1935--International Claims Settlement Act--15. It is important to note that Congress did more than simply raise the dollar amount from $500 to $1,000 in its effort to bring about amore orderly and efficient disposal of these claims. It must be assumed that Congress did not do a useless thing in substituting the words "any payment" for "total award" and--in keeping with the overall intention to provide for more orderly and efficient disposal of claims--it is our view that the prupose sought by this change in phraseology was to do exactly what the plain meaning of this substitution portends; to allow the Comptroller General to determine proper recipients where the amount of any payment--as opposed to award--does not exceed $1,000.
Accordingly, inasmuch as the sum now for payment does not exceed $1,000, a determination as to the proper recipient by the Comptroller General is in order under Public Law 90-421 and, on the basis of the record at hand, Barbara F. Swiader is the proper recipient in the present consideration. Also--so long as succeeding annual payouts under the Polish Agreement do not exceed $1,000 and the probative evidence in the claim does not change- -it will not be necessary to resubmit thhis claim to our Office as further amounts become available for payment to Barbara F. Swiader. Such a procedure is in keeping with the intent of Public Law 90-421 to more orderly and efficiently dispose of lthese claims and, moreover, such procedure will--on the facts of record--be succeeding identical claims for the life of the payout. It is expected, of course, that in each new case involving these awards, the initial claim will be submitted here for determination as to the proper recipient under the International Claims Settlement Act, as amended.
In keeping with this decision, settlements under Public Law 90-421 by our Claims Division may be used as precedent when the claim remains the same, the amount of payment does not exceed $1,000, and the probative evidence does not change .
Lawrence J. Powers Comptroller of the United States