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Governments: Federal Government: Claims By & Against

Torts:Damages: Property Damages

The Military Personnel and Civilian Employees' Claims Act (PCA) was enacted in 1964 in order to provide relief to service members and to other federal civilian employees for personal property that is lost, damaged, or destroyed as a result of the employees' service with the United States government. The PCA allows the service members or the civilian employees to file claims in accordance with each military department's rules and regulations.

The PCA allows recovery for personal property that has been lost, damaged, destroyed, captured, or abandoned. The PCA does not allow recovery for damages to real property, such as land, building, or permanent fixtures. However, such claims may be reimbursed under the Military Claims Act.

The PCA only allows military personnel and civilian employees of the Department of Defense to file claims for their personal property. Military personnel are defined as commissioned officers, warrant officers, enlisted personnel, and other military service members. Civilian employees include persons who are contract employees of the Department of Defense.

In order to recover reimbursement under the PCA for a claim, the loss must occur as a result of a claimant's military service or federal employment. The types of losses that are considered to be the result of military service or federal employment include: (1) losses that occur in military housing or military storage facilities; (2) losses that occur as a result of transportation of property under military orders; (3) losses that occur as a result of marine or aircraft disasters; (4) losses that occur as a result of combat or other enemy action; (5) losses that occur as a result of extraordinary risks; (6) losses that occur to property that is used for the benefit of the United States government; (7) losses that occur as a result of the negligence of a federal employee who is acting within the scope of his or her employment; (8) money that is deposited with the United States government for safekeeping; (9) certain non-collision losses to motor vehicles; (10) losses to mobile homes and trailers if the mobile homes or trailers are kept on federal property or are being shipped under military orders; and (11) certain thefts on military installations.

In addition to the requirement that a loss must occur as a result of a claimant's military service or federal employment, the claimant's use and possession of the property must have been reasonable and proper. For example, if the claimant kept a valuable piece of property in a place that would subject the property to damage or loss, his or her use or possession of the property would not be reasonable.

Certain types of claims are excluded under the PCA. Such claims include those that were caused by a claimant's own negligence or wrongful acts or claims that have resulted from a motor vehicle collision. Other claims that are excluded include currency or jewelry that has been shipped, losses in unassigned military quarters, enemy property, intangible property, and contraband.

Damages under the PCA are calculated based on whether the personal property can be repaired. If the property can be repaired, a claimant will be entitled to the reasonable cost of repairing the property. If the property cannot be repaired, the claimant will be entitled to the replacement cost of the property minus the property's depreciable value. The maximum amount of damages that can be paid under the PCA is $ 40,000. However, certain types of losses, such as losses for damages to motor vehicles, may be limited to $ 2,000, unless the vehicle was being shipped under military orders.

The statute of limitations for filing a claim under the PCA is two years from the date that the loss occurred. However, the two-year statute of limitations may be tolled or suspended during periods of armed conflict.

Copyright 2008 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.