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MILITARY PERSONNEL AND CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES’ CLAIMS ACT The Military Personnel and Civilian Employees’ Claims Act of 1964,31 U.S.C. § 3721 (1982) (hereafter called the Personnel Claims Act [PCA]), is a gratuitous payment  statute  intended  to  maintain  morale  by compensating  service  members  and  other  federal employees for personal property that is lost, damaged, or destroyed incident to service. Like  the  MCA,  the  PCA  contemplated  payment  of claims under such regulations as the head of an agency may prescribe.   Personnel  claims  regulations  in  other services are similar to the Navy’s, but are not identical. SCOPE OF LIABILITY The  PCA  is  limited  to  recovery  for  personal property damage that includes the loss, destruction, capture,  or  abandonment  of  personal  property.  Damage to  real  property  (land,  buildings,  and  permanent fixtures) is not covered, but maybe compensated under the  MCA.  Also,  remember  that  the  PCA  applies worldwide. Only  military  personnel  and  civilian  employees  of the Department of Defense may recover compensation. Military  personnel  include  commissioned  officers, warrant officers, enlisted personnel, and other appointed military members.    Civilian employees include those paid by the Department of the Navy on a contract basis. To be payable under the PICA, the claimant’s loss must  have  occurred  incident  to  military  service  or employment. Eleven  general  categories  of  losses incident  to  service  exist.  These  categories  include  the following: 1.   Property losses in quarters or other authorized spaces  designated  by  superior  authority  for  storage  of the  claimant’s  personal  property 2.  Transportation  losses,  such  as  damage  to household goods shipped pursuant to PCS orders 3.      Losses caused by marine or aircraft disaster 4.      Losses incident to combat or other enemy action 5.   Property   damage   by   being   subjected   to extraordinary risks 6.  Property  used  for  the  benefit  of  the  U.S. Government 7.  Losses caused by the negligence of a federal employee  acting  within  the  scope  of  employment 8.  Money  deposited  with  authorized  personnel  for safekeeping,  deposit,  transmittal,  or  other  authorized disposition 9. Certain noncollision damage to motor vehicles (limited to $2,000, not including the contents of the vehicle) 10. Damage to house trailers and contents while on federal property or while shipped under government contract 11.  Certain  thefts  aboard  military  installations  from the possession of the claimant. NOTE:  Within  each  of  these  11  categories  are numerous  specific  types  of  incidents  and  circumstances. The  rules  governing  each  of  these  11  areas  can  be complex  and  detailed. Therefore,  it  is  absolutely necessary to refer to JAGINST 5890.1 to determine whether a particular personnel claim is contemplated by one of the 11 categories. Not only must the property damage or loss occur incident  to  service,  the  claimant’s  possession  and  use  of the  damaged  property  must  have  been  reasonable, useful, or proper under the circumstances. While the PCA   provides   broad   protection   for   the   military member’s  personal  property,  the  government  has  not undertaken  to  insure  all  property  against  any  risk.  A personnel claim will usually be denied if the claimant’s possession   or   use   of   damaged   property   was unreasonable under the circumstances. Thus, while possession of an inexpensive radio in a locker in the barracks  is  reasonable  under  most  circumstances, keeping a $1,500 stereo system in the locker usually is not. Whether the possession or use of the property was reasonable,  useful,  or  proper  is  largely  a  matter  of judgment by the adjudicating authority. Factors that are considered include, but are not limited to, the claimant’s living conditions, reasons for possessing or using the property, efforts to safeguard the property, and the foreseeability of the loss or damage that occurred. EXCLUSION FROM LIABILITY Exclusions from personnel claims liability fall into three  general  categories.  The  two  most  common examples are as follows: l Caused by claimant’s negligence. If the property damage was caused, either in whole or in part, by the claimant’s  negligence  or  wrongful  acts,  or  by  such conduct by the claimant’s agent or employee acting in the  scope  of  employment,  the  personnel  claim  will  be 12-15

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