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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE,
Washington, D. C., May 13, 1930. Hon. James S. PARKER, Chairman Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,
House of Representatives. DEAR MR. PARKER: Careful consideration has been given to the bill, H. R. 12131, transmitted with your letter of May 5 with request for a report thereon and such views relative thereto as the department might desire to communicate.
This bill would authorize the State of Pennsylvania to construct, maintain, and operate a free highway bridge and approaches thereto across the Allegheny River at or near Kittanning, Armstrong County, Pa. Favorable action on the bill is recommended. Sincerely,
R. W. DUNLAP, Acting Secretary. O
REPORT No. 765
TO CREDIT REVENUES OF WATER DEPARTMENT OF DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA FOR PURCHASE OF SITE OF BRIGHTWOOD RESERVOIR, AND TO USE SITE FOR PARK PURPOSES
May 29, 1930.-Ordered to be printed
Mr. CAPPER, from the Committee on the District of Columbia, sub
mitted the following
[To accompany S. 4358)
The Committee on the District of Columbia, to whom was referred the bill (S. 4358) to authorize transfer of funds from the general revenues of the District of Columbia to the revenues of the water department of said District, and to provide for transfer of jurisdiction over certain property to the Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon, with the recommendation that the bill do pass.
The purpose of this bill is to permit the District government to transfer $20,729.90 from the general revenues of the District to the water-department fund, as formal reimbursement for the purchase in 1898 by the department of the site of the old Brightwood Reservior. The reservoir property is no longer needed, as the result of the establishment of a new water distribution system in the District, and the property is desirable for conversion to park purposes. The commissioners therefore seek to transfer jurisdiction over the site to the Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks.
The commissioners suggested the bill, and now join with the park director in urging its passage.
Their letters are appended hereto, as part of the report.
COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
Washington, May 9, 1930. Hon. ARTHUR CAPPER, Chairman Committee on the District of Columbia,
United States Senate, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR SENATOR CAPPER: The Commissioners of the District of Columbia recommend the enactment of Senate bill No. 4358, Seventy-first Congress, second session, entitled “A bill to authorize transfer of funds from the general
revenues of the District of Columbia to the revenues of the water department of said District, and to provide for transfer of jurisdiction over certain property to the Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks,” which you referred to them for consideration and report.
The commissioners desire to invite your attention to their letter of May 6,
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
Washington, May 2, 1930. Hon. ARTHUR CAPPER, Chairman Committee on the District of Columbia,
United States Senate, Washington, D. C. Sir: The Commissioners of the District of Columbia have the honor to inclose herewith the draft of a bill to authorize the transfer of $20,729.90 from the general revenues of the District of Columbia to the revenues of the water department of said District, and also to authorize the commissioners to transfer to the jurisdiction of the Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks parcel 72/1, the site of the old Brightwood Reservoir.
This property was acquired by the water department in 1898 for the sum of $20,729.90. The new water distribution system serving the area formerly served by the Brightwood Reservoir has been in service a sufficient length of time to give reasonable assurance that the Brightwood Reservoir is no longer needed by the water department. The water department is unable to maintain this property in good condition due to insufficient funds and the commissioners believe it to be desirable that the property should be transferred to the Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks and operated and maintained as a part of the park system of the District of Columbia. The Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks has no objection to assuming jurisdiction over this property.
It is the opinion of the commissioners that the amount of money to be transferred to the credit of the water department is a proper and equitable charge against the general funds of the District of Columbia.
A legislative item to effect this transfer of funds and jurisdiction was contained in the District of Columbia estimates for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1931, as approved by the Budget Bureau, but the House Committee on Appropriations took the position that the item should not be included in the District of Columbia appropriation bill but should be handled by specific legislation. Very sincerely,
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
Public BuildINGS AND PUBLIC PARKS,
OF THE NATIONAL CAPITAL,
Washington, D. C., May 24, 1930. Hon. ARTHUR CAPPER,
United States Senate, Washington, D. C.
MY DEAR SENATOR: In reply to your note of May 13, 1930, I am glad to recommend passage of Senate bill 4358, authorizing the transfer to this office of the property heretofore used for the Brightwood Reservoir. This property is by its location naturally a part of Rock Creek Park, and if no longer needed by the water system of the city, it should be amalgamated with the park.
I find on investigation that the property was bought from funds derived from the revenues of the water department, and that it is, therefore, perfectly proper to reimburse the water department from the general funds of the District of Columbia for the value of the property. Very respectfully,
U. S. GRANT, 3D, Director.
Mr. HOWELL, from the Committee on Claims, submitted the following
(To accompany S. 4377)
The Committee on Claims, to whom was referred the bill (S. 4377) to provide for the settlement of claims against the United States on account of property damage, personal injury, or death, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with the recommendation that the bill do pass without amendment.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
This bill is identical with H. R. 9285, Seventieth Congress, second session, as amended in the Senate for reasons stated in Senate Report 1699, Seventieth Congress, second session, except in certain minor particulars hereinafter mentioned. That bill, as amended in the Senate, was agreed to in conference, the conference report was adopted by both the Senate and the House, and the bill was presented to the President for approval during the last day or two of the second session, Seventieth Congress. Due to an objection hereinafter mentioned, the said bill, H. R. 9285, as amended, was given a pocket veto by the President. This bill, S. 4377, was drafted to embody the provisions of H. R. 9285, with certain changes to meet the objection leading to pocket veto of the bill.
It was stated in Senate Report 1699, Seventieth Congress, second session, that
There is now no general law providing for the adjustment of tort claims against the United States by either General Accounting Office, administrative officers, or the courts. The consequence is that the Claims Committees of Congress are burdened with numerous private bills for the payment of tort damages caused by acts of omission or commission of officers of the United States, and a considerable part of the time of Congress is consumed in the consideration of such of the bills as are favorably reported by the respective committees. The burden on Congress and the injustice to claimants have become so great that provision should be made for the utilization by Congress of the assistance
of the established machinery of the accounting office and of the judicial branch of the Government for the settlement of tort claims in the same manner as provision has been made for such utilization in the settlement of contract claims against the United States.
The act of February 24, 1855 (10 Stat. 612), establishing the Court of Claims, limited suits therein to claims "founded upon any law of Congress, or upon any regulations of an executive department, or upon any contract, express or implied, with the Government.” The act of Me 3, 1887 (24 Stat. 506), slightly extended the jurisdiction of the Court of Claims by adding claims "for damages, liquidated or unliquidated, in cases not sounding in tort.”. These statutes were carried forward into the Judicial Code of March 3, 1911 (36 Stat. 1093, 1135–1143). However, there have been enacted from time to time many special statutes conferring jurisdiction on district courts to hear and determine particular claims sounding tort against the Government and there is a general statute which authorizes the Court of Claims to hear claims for the tortuous acts of the Government in the infringement of patents. See act of June 25, 1910 (36 Stat. 851). In taking over the railroads and collateral services and in establishing a Shipping Board for the merchant ships, the Government placed itself in the position of a private operator. See acts of March 21, 1918 (40 Stat. 456), September 7, 1918 (39 Stat. 728), and March 9, 1920 (41 Stat. 525). That is, it submitted itself to tort liability in connection therewith.
There have also been enacted from time to time numerous private bills for the payment of damages to persons or property because of tortuous acts of employees or other agents of the United States. In addition to these private acts the Federal workmen's compensation act of September 7, 1916 (39 Stat. 742), has been enacted providing compensation for the disability or death of an employee "resulting fom a personal injury sustained while in the performance of his duty,' and Congress provided in the act of July 11, 1919 (41 Stat. 109), for compensation for damage to property by Army aircraft and by the act of December 28, 1922 (42 Stat. 1066), provision was made for the satisfaction by the heads of the executive departments or independent establishments of the Government of certain claims for damage to or loss of private property not in excess of $1,000 “caused by negligence of any officer or employee of the Government acting within the scope of his employment." An act of the same date gave the Secretary of the Navy authority to settle maritime collision claims up to $3,000.
In other words, it may be said that Congress has recognized the general liability of the Government within maximum amounts for the negligence of officers and employees of the United States, but the machinery for determining that liability is defective and results in overburdening the claims committees of Congress and Congress itself with the consideration of tort liability claims and with injuries to the claimants.
This proposed legislation is designed to relieve the situation by utilizing the machinery of the Accounting Office and judicial branches of the Government in the assistance of Congress.
EXTENT AND AMOUNT OF LIABILITY
The act of December 28, 1922, authorized the payment of claims not exceeding $1,000 “caused by the negligence of any officer or employee of the Government acting within the scope of his employment. This bill as passed by the House provides that “contributory negligence shall operate to diminish the damages recovery in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the claimant, and increases the $1,000 limitation to $5,000 and forces claimants who have been damaged in their property more than $5,000 to seek redress in the courts.
The liability of the Government in the act of December 28, 1922, is too broad and this bill as it passed the House enlarges that liability by attempting to set up the doctrine of apportionment of negligence in the settlement of tort claims. This is a rule of admiralty and does obtain in the English or any of the American courts in common-law actions, except in one or two States. The apportionment of negligence is wholly impracticable of application in tort claims against the United States and would be the source of endless disputes and dissatisfaction.
The ordinary rule as between private parties is that contributory negligence proximately causing the damage bars recovery. The rule is stated in Grand Trunk Railroad Co. v. Ives (144 U. S. 409), quoting from the syllabus, as follows:
If the proximate and immediate cause of the injury can be traced to the want of ordinary care and caution in the person injured, an action for the