31 U.S.C. § 3721 - U.S. Code - Unannotated Title 31. Money and Finance § 3721. Claims of personnel of agencies and the District of Columbia government for personal property damage or loss

(a)  In this section--

(1)  “agency” does not include a nonappropriated fund activity or a contractor with the United States Government.

(2)  “head of an agency” means--

(A)  for a military department, the Secretary of the military department;

(B)  for the Department of Defense (except the military departments), the Secretary of Defense;  and

(C)  for another agency, the head of the agency.

(3)  “settle” means consider, determine, adjust, and dispose of a claim by disallowance or by complete or partial allowance.

(b)(1)  The head of an agency may settle and pay not more than $40,000 for a claim against the Government made by a member of the uniformed services under the jurisdiction of the agency or by an officer or employee of the agency for damage to, or loss of, personal property incident to service.  If, however, the claim arose from an emergency evacuation or from extraordinary circumstances, the amount settled and paid under the authority of the preceding sentence may exceed $40,000, but may not exceed $100,000.  A claim allowed under this subsection may be paid in money or the personal property replaced in kind.

(2)  The Secretary of State may waive the settlement and payment limitation referred to in paragraph (1) for claims for damage or loss by United States Government personnel under the jurisdiction of a chief of mission in a foreign country if such claims arise in circumstances where there is in effect a departure from the country authorized or ordered under circumstances described in section 5522(a) of title 5 , if the Secretary determines that there exists exceptional circumstances that warrant such a waiver.

(c)  On paying a claim under this section, the Government is subrogated for the amount of the payment to a right or claim that the claimant may have against a foreign country for the damage or loss for which the Government made the payment.

(d)  The Mayor of the District of Columbia may settle and pay a claim against the District of Columbia government made by an officer or employee of the District of Columbia government to the same extent the head of an agency may settle and pay a claim under this section.

(e)  A claim may not be allowed under this section if the personal property damage or loss occurred at quarters occupied by the claimant in a State or the District of Columbia that were not assigned or provided in kind by the United States Government or the District of Columbia government.

(f)  A claim may be allowed under this section only if--

(1)  the claim is substantiated;

(2)  the head of the agency decides that possession of the property was reasonable or useful under the circumstances;  and

(3)  no part of the loss was caused by any negligent or wrongful act of the claimant or an agent or employee of the claimant.

(g)  A claim may be allowed under this section only if it is presented in writing within 2 years after the claim accrues.  However, if a claim under subsection (b) of this section accrues during war or an armed conflict in which an armed force of the United States is involved, or has accrued within 2 years before war or an armed conflict begins, and for cause shown, the claim must be presented within 2 years after the cause no longer exists or after the war or armed conflict ends, whichever is earlier.  An armed conflict begins and ends as stated in a concurrent resolution of Congress or a decision of the President.

(h)  The head of the agency--

(1)  may settle and pay a claim made by the surviving spouse, child, parent, or brother or sister of a dead member, officer, or employee if the claim is otherwise payable under this section;  and

(2)  may settle and pay the claims by the survivors only in the following order:

(A)  the spouse's claim.

(B)  a child's claim.

(C)  a parent's claim.

(D)  a brother's or sister's claim.

(i)  Notwithstanding a contract, the representative of a claimant may not receive more than 10 percent of a payment of a claim made under this section for services related to the claim.  A person violating this subsection shall be fined not more than $1,000.

(j)  The President may prescribe policies to carry out this section (except subsection (b) to the extent that subsection (b) applies to the military departments, the Department of Defense, and the Coast Guard).  Subject to those policies, the head of each agency shall prescribe regulations to carry out this section.

(k)  Settlement of a claim under this section is final and conclusive.


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