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A company requested a review of a GAO Claims Group disallowance of its claim for a refund recovered by administrative setoff by the Department of the Air Force for the loss in transit of one pallet of printed paper forms plus unearned freight. The company accepted a shipment of printed paper forms for transportation from the Air Force Publications Distribution Center, Bengies, Maryland to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The shipment checked short one pallet when it was delivered to the destination, and the shortage was noted on the company's shipping document. The Air Force stated that several months later, the company delivered one skid to the Air Force Publications Distribution Center. The company contended that this delivery satisfied the shortage of the previous delivery. For several reasons, the Air Force disagreed: records of the Distribution Center showed that the contents of the skid were not the same as the forms shipped on the missing pallet; marks on the skid showed that it was consigned to Otis Air Force Base, Massachusetts; and the weights of the pallet and the skid were different. The Air Force, therefore, claimed damages and, upon the company's failure to pay the claim, the damages were recovered by deduction. The company claimed refund of the amount deducted. However the claim was denied by the GAO Claims Group in a Settlement Certificate on the grounds that a prima facie case of liability for loss in transit had been established by the Government and had not been refuted by the company. A showing that a carrier failed to deliver the same quantity or quality of goods at the destination as received at the origin and proof of the amount of damages establish a prima facie case of carrier liability for loss in transit. Once that has been established, the burden of presenting evidence in rebuttal shifts to the carrier and remains there. The company did not show that the skid delivered to the Distribution Center was the same as the pallet lost in the previous shipment. The company, therefore, failed to satisfy its burden of evidence. GAO sustained the Claims Group disallowance.


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