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May 18, 1944.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House and ordered

to be printed

Mr. JENNINGS, from the Committee on Claims, submitted the following

REPORT

[To accompany H. R. 25111

The Committee on Claims, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 2511) for the relief of P. Audley Whaley having considered the same, reports favorably thereon without amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.

The purpose of the proposed legislation is to appropriate the sum of $978.20 to P. Audley Whaley in full settlement of all claims against the United States for the loss, damage, or destruction of personal property as a result of a fire on August 24, 1942, at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cosby, Tenn., District.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

It appears that Mr. P. Audley Whaley was employed as an assistant park warden and was on duty at the Cosby Ranger Station. The fire occurred during the evening of August 24, 1942, after Mr. Whaley left his quarters to make a patrol of his district. He had taken his family with him. Upon his return to the station, the building was on fire and only the walls were standing. The cause of the fire has not been established definitely. Reports received from the park indicate that it probably was started by a kerosene-operated refrigerator installed and maintained by the Government at the ranger station. However, the regfrierator was so badly damaged that it was impossible to confirm this opinion as to the cause of the fire.

There is nothing in the record to indicate that any person connected with the Government should be charged with negligence in the installation and operation of the refrigerator nor is there any evidence that the fire was occasioned by negligence on the part of the claimant.

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The Department of the Interior calls attention to Private Law 531 of the 77th Congress, H. R. 6388 for the relief of William S. Chapman, Clyde Gilbert, Paul Scherbel, and Frank Childs. The Department suggests that in view of the fact that favorable action was taken by the Congress on those cases, it would seem proper that similar action be taken on the pending bill.

Therefore, your committee concurs in the recommendation of the Interior Department and recommends that the bill be favorably reported. Appended hereto is the report of the Department of the Interior, together with other pertinent evidence.

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,

Washington, September 15, 1948. Hon. Dan R. McGEHEE, Chairman, Committee on Claims,

House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. McGehee: Further reference is made to your request for the views of this Department on H. R. 2511, entitled “A bill for the relief of P. Audley Whaley."

This bill would authorize the payment of $978.20 in settlement of the claim of Mr. Whaley for the loss of personal property as a result of a fire that destroyed the Cosby ranger station in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At the time of the fire, Mr. Whaley was employed as an assistant park warden and was on duty at the Cosby ranger station.

The fire occurred during the evening of August 24, 1942, after Mr. Whaley left his quarters to make a patrol of his district. He had taken his family, consisting of his wife and two small boys, with him. Upon his return to the station, the building was on fire and only the walls were standing. The cause of the fire has not been established definitely. Reports received from the park indicate that it probably was started by a kerosene-operated refrigerator installed and maintained by the Government at the ranger station. However, the refrigerator was so badly damaged that it its impossible to confirm this opinion as to the cause of the fire.

There is nothing in the record to indicate that any person connected with the Government should be charged with negligence in the installation and operation of the refrigerator, nor is there any evidence that the fire was occasioned by negligence on the part of the claimant,

În an effort to obtain compensation for the loss of his personal property, Mr. Whaley filed a claim with this Department for consideration under the act of December 28, 1922 (42 Stat. 1066, 31 U. S. C. sec. 215). However, after careful study by the Solicitor, the claim was rejected as the record of the case failed to show that the fire was the result of any negligent act of the United States or its employees, which finding of negligence is a necessary element in the favorable consideration of claims under the provisions of the above-mentioned act. of the Solicitor's opinion (No. M. 32056), together with copies of other pertinent correspondence, is enclosed.

In general, this claim is comparable with another claim that resulted from a similar type of fire in Yellowstone National Park. I refer to Private Law 531, Seventy-seventh Congress (H. R. 6388) entitled "An act for the relief of William S. Chapman, Clyde Gilbert, Paul Scherbel, and Frank Childs.” In both cases, the fires are believed to have originated from kerosene-operated refrigerators, However, it has not been possible in either case to determine the exact cause of the fire. The known facts in both cases fail to indicate negligence on the part of the claimants or the Government.

In view of the fact that favorable action was taken by the Congress in the Yellowstone case, it would seem to be proper that similar action should be taken on the pending bill. · In the circumstances, I recommend favorable consideration of H. R. 2511.

I have been advised by the Bureau of the Budget that there would be no ob. jection by that Bureau to the presentation of this report to the Congress. Sincerely yours,

ABE FORTAS, Acling Secretary of the Interior.

A copy

AFFIDAVIT CONCERNING THE Loss OF PERSONAL EFFECTS AND EQUIPMENT Lost

BY FIRE ON August 24, 1942, AT THE Cosby DISTRICT WARDEN STATION, IN THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK, TENN.

I, P. Audley Whaley, Assistant park warden in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, do solemnly swear that the personal property itemized in the attached list was destroyed by fire which consumed the Cosby district warden station in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, on August 24, 1942, at about. 7:30 p. m.; and that the same is, to the best of my knowledge, a true and correct list of the items destroyed by fire, and that the appraisal value shown thereon, totaling $978.20 represents a fair appraisal value of the items destroyed.

(Signed) P. AUDLEY WHALEY STATE OF TENNESSEE,

Sevier County, 88. On this fourth day of January in the year 1943 A. D., before me personally appeared P. Audley Whaley, to me known to be the same person described in, and who executed the foregoing affidavit; and who upon oath acknowledged to me that to the best of his knowledge the statements therein are true and correct.

Subscribed and sworn to before me, at Gatlinburg, Tenn. this fourth day of January A. D. 1943.

John O. MORRELL, Notary Public. My commission expires March 6, 1944.

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MAY 18, 1944.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House and ordered

to be printed

Mr. JENNINGS, from the Committee on Claims, submitted the following

REPORT

(To accompany H. R. 2896)

The Committee on Claims, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 2896) for the relief of Mr. and Mrs. R. L. Rhodes having considered the same, report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.

The amendment is as follows: Line 6, after the name “Rhodes” strike out the remainder of the bill, and insert in lieu thereof: of Huntington, Texas, the sum of $826 in full settlement of all claims against the United States for medical expenses and injuries sustained by them as the result of an accident between the car in which they were riding and an Army truck, which occurred on United States Highway Numbered 171, about one and onehalf miles south of De Ridder, Louisiana, on August 8, 1941: Provided, That no part of the amount appropriated in this Act in excess of 10 per centum thereof shall be paid or delivered to or received by any agent or attorney on account of services rendered in connection with this claim, and the same shall be unlawful, any contract to the contrary notwithstanding. Any person violating the provisions of this Act shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in any sum not exceeding $1,000.

The purpose of the proposed legislation is to appropriate the sum of $826 to Mr. and Mrs. R. L. Rhodes, of Huntington, Tex., in full settlement of all claims against the United States for medical expenses and injuries sustained by them as the result of an accident between the car in which they were riding and an Army truck, which occurred on United States Highway No. 171, about 1% miles south of De Ridder, La., on August 8, 1941.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

It appears that on August 8, 1941, at about 10:45 a. m., an Army truck, operated by an enlisted man on official business, was proceeding in a convoy of four vehicles in a northerly direction on Highway No.

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