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e-CFR data is current as of April 7, 2020

Title 32Subtitle AChapter VSubchapter BPart 536 → Subpart J

Title 32: National Defense

Subpart J—Claims Cognizable Under the Foreign Claims Act

§536.135   Statutory authority for the Foreign Claims Act.
§536.136   Scope for claims arising under the Foreign Claims Act.
§536.137   Claims payable under the Foreign Claims Act.
§536.138   Claims not payable under the Foreign Claims Act.
§536.139   Applicable law for claims under the Foreign Claims Act.
§536.140   Appointment and functions of Foreign Claims Commissions.
§536.141   Composition of Foreign Claims Commissions.
§536.142   Qualification of members of Foreign Claims Commissions.
§536.143   Settlement authority of Foreign Claims Commissions.
§536.144   Reopening a claim after final action by a Foreign Claims Commission.
§536.145   Solatia payment.

§536.135   Statutory authority for the Foreign Claims Act.

(a) The statutory authority for this subpart is the Act of August 10, 1956, 10 U.S.C. 2734 (70 Stat. 154), commonly referred to as the Foreign Claims Act (FCA), as amended by Public Law 86-223, September 1959 (73 Stat. 453); Public Law 86-411, April 1960 (74 Stat. 16); Public Law 90-521, September 1968 (82 Stat. 874); Public Law 91-312, July 1970 (84 Stat. 412); Public Law 93-336, July 1974 (88 Stat. 292); Public Law 96-513, Title V, §511 (95), December 1980 (94 Stat. 2928). It is posted on the USARCS Web site; for the address see §536.2(a).

(b) Claims arising from the acts or omissions of the U.S. Armed Forces in the Marshall Islands or the Federated States of Micronesia are settled in accordance with Art. XV, Non-contractual Claims, of the U.S.-Marshall Islands and Micronesian Status of Forces Agreement (the “SOFA”) (posted on the USARCS Web site; for the address see §536.2(a)). This is pursuant to the “agreed upon minutes” that are appended to the SOFA, pursuant to Section 323 of the Compact of Free Association between the U.S. and the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, enacted by Public Law 99-239, January 14, 1986. (The Compact may be viewed at http://www.fm/jcn/compact/relindex.html). The “agreed upon minutes” state that “all claims within the scope of paragraph 1 of Article XV [Claims], [of the Compact] *  *  * shall be processed and settled exclusively pursuant to the Foreign Claims Act, 10 U.S.C. 2734, and any regulations promulgated in implementation thereof.” Therefore, Title I, Article 178 of the Compact, regarding claims processing, is not applicable to claims arising from the acts or omissions of the U.S. armed forces, but only to other federal agencies. Those agencies are required to follow the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 2672.

§536.136   Scope for claims arising under the Foreign Claims Act.

(a) Application. This subpart, which is applicable outside the United States, its commonwealths, territories and possessions, including areas under the jurisdiction of the United States, implements the FCA and prescribes the substantive basis and special procedural requirements for settlement of claims of inhabitants of a foreign country, or of a foreign country or a political subdivision thereof, against the United States for personal injury, death, or property damage caused by service members or civilian employees, or claims that arise incident to noncombat activities of the armed forces.

(b) Effect of Military Claims Act (MCA). Claims arising in foreign countries will be settled under the MCA if the injured party is an inhabitant of the U.S., for example, a member of the U.S. armed forces, a U.S. civilian employee, or a family member of either category. In a wrongful death case, if the decedent is an inhabitant of a foreign country, even though his survivors are U.S. inhabitants, the FCA will apply. See §536.74(c). For claims arising outside the U.S. involving foreign-born spouces, see DA Pam 27-20, paragraph 2-20a.

(c) Effect of Army Maritime Claims Settlement Act (AMCSA) (10 U.S.C. 4801, 4802 and 4808). A maritime claim may be settled under the FCA.

§536.137   Claims payable under the Foreign Claims Act.

(a) A claim for death, personal injury, or loss of or damage to property may be allowed under this subpart if the alleged damage results from noncombat activity or a negligent or wrongful act or omission of soldiers or civilian employees of the U.S. armed forces, as enumerated in §536.23(b), regardless of whether the act or omission was made within the scope of their employment. This includes non-U.S. citizen employees recruited elsewhere but employed in a country of which they are not a citizen. However, a claim generated by non-U.S. citizen employees in the country in which they were recruited and are employed will be payable only if the act or omission was made in the scope of employment. But claims arising from the operation of U.S. armed forces vehicles or other equipment by such employees may be paid, even though the employees are not acting within the scope of their employment, provided the employer or owner of the vehicle or other equipment would be liable under local law in the circumstances involved.

(b) Claims generated by officers or civilian employees of the American Battle Monuments Commission (36 U.S.C. 2110), acting within the scope of employment, will be paid from American Battle Monuments Commission appropriations.

(c) Claims for the loss of, or damage to, property that may be settled under this subpart include the following:

(1) Real property used and occupied under lease, express, implied, or otherwise. See §536.34(m) of this part and paragraph 2-15m of DA Pam 27-162.

(2) Personal property bailed to the government under an agreement, express or implied, unless the owner has expressly assumed the risk of damage or loss.

§536.138   Claims not payable under the Foreign Claims Act.

A claim is not payable if it:

(a) Results wholly from the negligent or wrongful act of the claimant or agent;

(b) Is purely contractual in nature;

(c) Arises from private or domestic obligations as distinguished from government transactions;

(d) Is based solely on compassionate grounds;

(e) Is a bastardy claim for child support expenses;

(f) Is for any item whose acquisition, possession, or transportation is in violation of Department of the Army (DA) or Department of Defense (DOD) directives, such as illegal war trophies.

(g) Is for rent, damage, or other payments involving the acquisition, use, possession, or disposition of real property or interests therein by and for the DA. See §536.34(m) of this part and paragraph 2-15m of DA Pam 27-162.

(h) Is not in the best interest of the United States, is contrary to public policy, or otherwise contrary to the basic intent of the governing statute (10 U.S.C. §2734); for example, claims for property loss or damage, or personal injury or death caused by inhabitants of unfriendly foreign countries or by individuals considered to be unfriendly to the United States.

(i) Is presented by a national, or a corporation controlled by a national, of a country at war or engaged in armed conflict with the United States, or any country allied with such enemy country unless the appropriate settlement authority determines that the claimant is, and at the time of the incident was friendly to the United States. A prisoner of war or an interned enemy alien is not excluded from filing a claim for damage, loss, or destruction of personal property within the federal government's custody if the claim is otherwise payable.

(j) Is for damages or injury, the claim for which a receiving State should adjudicate and pay pursuant to an international agreement, subject to waiver by the Commander USARCS. See DA Pam 27-162, paragraph 3-4a(2), for a discussion of the conditions of waiver.

(k) Is listed in §§536.45 and 536.46, except for the exclusions listed in §§536.45(e), (h) and (k). Additionally, the exclusions set forth in §§536.45(a) and (b) do not apply to a claim arising incident to noncombat activities.

(l) Is brought by a subrogee.

(m) Is covered by insurance on the involved U.S. Armed Forces' vehicle or the tortfeasor's privately owned vehicle (POV), in accordance with requirements of a foreign country, unless the claim exceeds the coverage or the insurer is insolvent. See §536.139(c).

(n) Is payable under subpart C of this part or AR 27-20, chapter 11.

(o) Is brought by or on behalf of a member of a foreign military force for personal injury or death arising incident to service, or pursuant to combined military operations. Combined military operations include exercises and United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Association (NATO) peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. Derivative claims arising from these incidents are also excluded.

§536.139   Applicable law for claims under the Foreign Claims Act.

(a) Venue of incident and domicile of claimant. In determining an appropriate award, apply the law and custom of the country in which the incident occurred to determine which elements of damages are payable and which individuals are entitled to compensation. However, where the claimant is an inhabitant of another foreign country and only temporarily within the country in which the incident occurred, the quantum of certain elements of damages, such as lost wages and future medical care, may be calculated based on the law and economic conditions in the country of the claimant's permanent residence. Where the decedent is the subject of a wrongful death case, the quantum will be determined based on the country of the decedent's permanent residence regardless of the fact that his survivors live in the U.S. or a different foreign country than the decedent. See §536.77 for further damages guidance.

(b) Other guidance. The guidance set forth in §§536.77(b) through (d) as to allowable elements of damages is generally applicable. Where moral damages, as defined in DA Pam 27-162, paragraph 2-53c(4), are permitted, such damages are payable. In some countries it is customary to get a professional appraisal to substantiate certain claims and pass this cost on to the tortfeasor. The Commander USARCS or the chief of a command claims service may, as an exception to policy, permit the reimbursement of such costs in appropriate cases. Where feasible, claimants should be discouraged from incurring such costs.

(c) Deductions for insurance. (1) Insurance coverage recovered or recoverable will be deducted from any award. In that regard, every effort will be made to monitor the insurance aspect of the case and encourage direct settlement between the claimant and the insurer of the tortfeasor.

(2) When efforts under paragraph (c)(1) of this section are of no avail, or when it otherwise is determined that an insurance settlement will not be reasonably available for application to the award, no award will be made until the chief of the command claims service or the Commander USARCS, has first granted consent. In such cases, an assignment of the insured's rights against the insurer will be obtained and, in appropriate cases, reimbursement action will be instituted against the insurer under applicable procedures.

(3) If an insurance settlement is not available due to the insurer's insolvency or bankruptcy, a report on the bankruptcy will be forwarded to the Commander USARCS without delay, setting forth all pertinent information, including the alleged reasons for the bankruptcy and the facts concerning the licensing of the insurer.

(d) Deductions for amounts paid by tortfeasor. Settlement authorities will deduct from the damages any direct payments by a member or civilian employee of the U.S. armed forces for damages (other than solatia).

§536.140   Appointment and functions of Foreign Claims Commissions.

(a) Claims cognizable under this subpart will be referred to the command responsible for claims arising within its geographic area of responsibility, including claims transferred by agreement between the services involved. The senior judge advocate of a command having a command claims service, or his delegee, will appoint a sufficient number of Foreign Claims Commissions (FCCs) to dispose of the claims. If there is no command claims service, the responsible commander may ask the Commander USARCS for permission to establish one. Otherwise, the Commander USARCS will appoint a sufficient number of FCCs from personnel furnished by the command involved. See §576.3(d) for more information about command claims services.

(b) The Commander USARCS will appoint all other FCCs to act on all other claims, regardless of where such claims arose, unless they arose in a country for which single-service responsibility has been assigned to another service. FCCs appointed by the Commander USARCS at units based in the continental United States (CONUS) may act on any claim arising out of such unit's operations. Any FCC operating in, or adjudicating claims arising out of, a geographical area within a command claims service's jurisdiction, will comply with that service's legal and procedural rules.

(c) An FCC may operate as an integral part of a command claims service, which will determine the cases to be assigned to it, furnish necessary administrative services, and establish and maintain its records. Where an FCC does not operate as part of a command claims service, it may operate as part of the office or a division, corps or higher command staff judge advocate (SJA), which will perform the foregoing functions.

(d) An appointing authority who appoints or relieves an FCC whom he or she has appointed will forward one copy of each order addressing an FCC's appointment, relief, or change of responsibility to the Commander USARCS. Upon receipt of an initial appointing order, the Commander USARCS will assign an office code number to the FCC. Without such a number the FCC has no authority to approve or pay claims. See AR 27-20, paragraph 13-1.

(e) Normally, the FCC is responsible for the investigation of all claims referred to it, using both the procedures set forth in subpart B of this part and any local procedures established by the appointing authority or command claims service responsible for the geographical area in which the claim arose. Chiefs of a command claims service may request assistance on claims investigation within their geographical areas from units or organizations other than the FCC. The Commander USARCS may make the same request for any claim referred to an FCC appointed under his or her authority.

(f) When an FCC intends to deny a claim, or offer an award less than the amount claimed, it will notify in writing the claimant, the claimant's authorized agent, or legal representative of the intended action on the claim and the legal and factual bases for that action. If the FCC proposes a partial award, a settlement agreement should be enclosed with the notice. Claimants will be advised that they may either accept the FCC action by returning the signed settlement agreement or, if dissatisfied with the FCC's action, they may submit a request for reconsideration stating the factual or legal reasons why they believe the FCC's proposed action is incorrect. This notice serves to give the claimant an opportunity to request reconsideration of the FCC action and state the reasons for the request before final action is taken on the claim. When the FCC intends to award the amount claimed, or recommend an award equal to the amount claimed to a higher authority, this procedure is not necessary. However, a settlement agreement is required for all awards, full or partial. See §536.63(a).

(1) This notice should be given at least 30 days before the FCC takes final action, except on small claims processed pursuant to §536.33. The notice should be mailed via certified or registered mail to the claimant. The claimant should be informed that any request for reconsideration should be addressed to the FCC that took final action, and that all materials the claimant wishes the FCC to consider should be included with the request for reconsideration.

(2) An FCC may alter its initial decision based on the claimant's response or proceed with the intended action. If the claimant's response raises a general policy issue, the FCC may request an advisory opinion from the Commander USARCS or the chief of the command claims service while retaining the claim for final action at its level.

(3) Upon completing of its evaluation of the claimant's response, the FCC will notify the claimant of its final decision and advise the claimant that its action is final and conclusive as a matter of law (10 U.S.C. 2735), unless the final decision is a recommendation for payment above its authority. In that case, the FCC will forward any response submitted by the claimant along with its claims memorandum of opinion to the approval authority, and will notify the claimant accordingly.

(4) When an FCC determines that a claim is valued at more than $50,000 or all claims arising out of a single incident are valued at more than $100,000, the file will be transferred to the Commander USARCS for further action; see §536.143(d)(2). Upon request of the Commander USARCS, the FCC may negotiate a settlement, the amount of which exceeds the FCC's authority; however, prior approval by a higher authority is required.

(5) Every reasonable effort should be made to negotiate a mutually agreeable settlement on meritorious claims. When an agreement can be reached, the notice and response provisions above are not necessary. If the FCC recommends an award in excess of its monetary authority, the settlement agreement should indicate that its recommendation is contingent upon approval by higher authority.

(g) The chief of an overseas command claims service may delegate to a one-member FCC the responsibility for the receipt, processing, and investigation of any claim, regardless of amount, except those required to be referred to a receiving State office for adjudication under the provisions of a treaty concerning the status of U.S. forces in the country in which the claim arose. If, after investigation, it appears that action by a three-member FCC is appropriate, the one-member FCC should send the claim to the appropriate three-member FCC with a complete investigation report, including a discussion of the applicable local law and a recommendation for disposition.

§536.141   Composition of Foreign Claims Commissions.

(a) Normally, an FCC will be composed of either one or three members. Alternate members of three-member FCCs may be appointed when circumstances require, and may be substituted for regular members on specific cases by order of the appointing authority. The appointing orders will clearly designate the president of a three-member FCC. Two members of a three-member FCC will constitute a quorum, and the FCC's decision will be determined by majority vote.

(b) Upon approval by the Commander USARCS and the appropriate authority of another uniformed service, the membership may be composed of one or more members of another uniformed service. If another service has single-service responsibility over the foreign country in which the claim arose, that service is responsible for the claim. If requested, the Commander USARCS may furnish a JAG officer or claims attorney to be a member of another service's FCC.

§536.142   Qualification of members of Foreign Claims Commissions.

Normally, a member of an FCC will be either a commissioned officer or a claims attorney. At least two members of a three-member FCC must be JAs or claims attorneys. In exigent circumstances, a qualified non-lawyer employee of the armed forces may be appointed to an FCC, subject to prior approval by the Commander USARCS. Such approval may be granted only upon a showing of the employee's status and qualifications and adequate justification for such appointment (for example, lack of legally qualified personnel). The FCC will be limited to employees who are citizens of the United States. An officer, claims attorney, or employee of another armed force will be appointed a member of an Army FCC only if approved by the Commander USARCS.

§536.143   Settlement authority of Foreign Claims Commissions.

(a) In order to determine whether the claim will be considered by a one-member or three-member FCC, the claimed amount will be converted to the U.S. dollar equivalent (based on the annual Foreign Currency Fluctuation Account exchange rate, where applicable). However, the FCC's jurisdiction to approve is determined by the conversion rate on the date of final action. Accordingly, if the value of the U.S. dollar has decreased, the FCC will forward the recommendation to a higher authority, if necessary.

(b) Payment will be made in the currency of the country in which the incident occurred or in which the claimant resided at the time of the incident, unless the claimant requests payment in U.S. dollars or another currency and such request is approved by the chief of a command claims service or the Commander USARCS. However, if the claimant resides in another foreign country at the time of payment, payment in an amount equivalent to that which would have been paid under the preceding sentence may be made in the currency of that third country without the approval of the Commander USARCS.

(c) A one-member FCC may consider and pay claims presented in any amount provided a mutually agreed settlement may be reached in an amount not exceeding the FCC's monetary authority. A one-member FCC may deny any claim when the claimed amount does not exceed its monetary authority. Unless otherwise restricted by the appointing authority, a one-member FCC who is a JA or claims attorney has $15,000 monetary authority, while any other one-member commission has $5,000 monetary authority.

(d) A three-member FCC, unless otherwise restricted by the appointing authority, may take the following actions on a claim that is properly before it:

(1) Disapprove a claim presented in any amount. After following the procedures in §536.140, including reconsideration, the disapproval is final and conclusive under 10 U.S.C. 2735. The FCC will inform the appointing authority of its action. After it takes final action and disapproves a claim presented in any amount over $50,000, the FCC will forward to the appointing authority the written notice to the claimant required by §536.140(f), any response from the claimant, and its notice of final action on the claim.

(2) Approve and pay meritorious claims presented in any amount. (i) Claims paid in full or in part for an amount not exceeding $50,000 will be paid after any reconsideration as set forth in §536.140. This action is final and conclusive under 10 U.S.C. 2735.

(ii) Claims valued at an amount exceeding $50,000, or multiple claims arising from the same incident valued at more than $100,000, will be forwarded through the appointing authority with a memorandum of opinion to the Commander USARCS for action; see DA Pam 27-162, paragraph 2-60. The memorandum of opinion will discuss the amount for which the claimant will settle and include the recommendation of the FCC.

(e) The Judge Advocate General (TJAG), The Assistant Judge Advocate General (TAJAG) and the Commander USARCS, or his or her designee serving at USARCS, may approve and pay, in whole or in part, any claim as long as the amount of the award does not exceed $100,000; may disapprove any claim, regardless of either the amount claimed or the recommendation of the FCC forwarding the claim; or, if a claim is forwarded to USARCS for approval of payment in excess of $50,000, refer the claim back to the FCC or another FCC for further action.

(f) Payments in excess of $100,000 will be approved by the Secretary of the Army, the Army General Counsel as the Secretary's designee, or other designee of the Secretary.

(g) Following approval where required and receipt of an agreement by the claimant accepting the specific sum awarded by the FCC, the claim will be processed for payment in the appropriate currency. The first $100,000 of any award will be paid from Army claims funds. The excess will be reported to the Financial Management Service, Department of the Treasury, with the documents listed in DA Pam 27-162, paragraph 2-81.

(h) If the settlement authority upholds a final offer or authorizes an award on appeal from a denial of a claim, the notice of the settlement authority's action will inform the claimant that he or she must accept the award within 180 days of the date of mailing of the notice of the settlement authority's action or the award will be withdrawn, the claim will be deemed denied, and the file will be closed without future recourse.

§536.144   Reopening a claim after final action by a Foreign Claims Commission.

(a) Original approval or settlement authority (including TAJAG, TJAG, Secretary of the Army, or the Secretary's designees). (1) An original settlement authority may reconsider the denial of, or final offer on a claim brought under the FCA upon request of the claimant or the claimants authorized agent. In the absence of such a request, the settlement authority may reconsider a claim on its own initiative.

(2) An original approval or settlement authority may reopen and correct action on an FCA claim previously settled in whole or in part (even if a settlement agreement has been executed) when it appears that the original action was incorrect in law or fact based on the evidence of record at the time of the action or subsequently received. For errors in fact, the new evidence must not have been discoverable at the time of final action by either the Army or the claimant through the exercise of reasonable diligence. Corrective action may also be taken when an error contrary to the parties' mutual understanding is discovered in the original action. If it is determined that the original action was incorrect, the action will be modified, and if appropriate, a supplemental payment made. The basis for a change in action will be stated in a memorandum included in the file. For example, a claim was settled for $15,000, but the settlement agreement was typed to read “$1,500” and the error is not discovered until the file is being prepared for payment. If appropriate, a corrected payment will be made. A settlement authority who has reason to believe that a settlement was obtained by fraud on the part of the claimant or the claimant's legal representative, will reopen action on that claim and, if the belief is substantiated, correct the action. The basis for correcting an action will be stated in a memorandum and included in the file.

(b) A successor approval or settlement authority (including TAJAG, TJAG, Secretary of the Army, or the Secretary's designees)—(1) Reconsideration. A successor approval or settlement authority may reconsider the denial of, or final offer on, an FCA claim upon request of the claimant or the claimant's authorized agent only on the basis of fraud, substantial new evidence, errors in calculation, or mistake (misinterpretation) of law.

(2) Settlement correction. A successor approval or settlement authority may reopen and correct a predecessor's action on a claim that was previously settled in whole or in part for the same reasons that an original authority may do so.

(c) Time requirement for filing request for reconsideration. Requests postmarked more than five years from the date of mailing of final notice will be denied based on the doctrine of laches.

(d) Finality of action. Action by the appropriate authority (either affirming the prior action or granting full or partial relief) is final under the provisions of 10 U.S.C. 2735. Action upon request for reconsideration constitutes final administrative disposition of a claim. No further requests for reconsideration will be allowed except on the basis of fraud.

§536.145   Solatia payment.

Payment of solatia in accordance with local custom as an expression of sympathy toward a victim or his or her family is common in some overseas commands. Solatia payments are known to be a custom in the Federated States of Micronesia, Japan, Korea, and Thailand. In other countries, the FCC should consult the command claims service or Commander USARCS for guidance. Such payments are not to be made from the claims expenditure allowance. These payments are made from local operation and maintenance funds. This applies even where a command claims service is directed to administer the command's solatia program. See, for example, United States Forces Korea Regulation 526-11 regarding solatia amounts and procedures.

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