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107th Congress Report
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
2d Session 107-578
FOR THE RELIEF OF RETIRED SERGEANT FIRST CLASS JAMES D. BENOIT AND WAN
July 16, 2002.--Referred to the Private Calendar and ordered to be
Mr. Sensenbrenner, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 1834]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the
bill (S. 1834) for the relief of retired Sergeant First Class
James D. Benoit and Wan Sook Benoit, having considered the
same, reports favorably thereon without amendment and
recommends that the bill do pass.
Purpose and Summary.............................................. 1
Background and Need for the Legislation.......................... 2
Committee Consideration.......................................... 2
Vote of the Committee............................................ 2
Committee Oversight Findings..................................... 2
Performance Goals and Objectives................................. 2
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................ 3
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................ 3
Constitutional Authority Statement............................... 3
Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion....................... 3
Markup Transcript................................................ 4
Purpose and Summary
S. 1834 would pay the Benoits of the State of Michigan
$415,000 to satisfy their equitable claim as recommended by the
Court of Federal Claims.
Background and Need for the Legislation
In June 1983, the Benoit's 3-year-old son died after
falling out of seventh floor window of a military apartment
because of a faulty screen. An autopsy was performed with the
family's proviso that all organs ultimately remain in the son's
body for purposes of burial. This proviso was required by the
family's religious beliefs. Several of the boy's organs were
disposed of in error.
The Department of the Army's admitted fault and awarded the
family $65,000 for their son's wrongful death and an additional
$5,000 for the error made in disposal of his organs. The family
appealed those awards to the Secretary of Defense with no
resolution. When congressional efforts to resolve the matter
with the Department were unsuccessful, the Senate passed a
resolution referring the matter to the Court of Federal Claims
for a determination of an appropriate award in the case.
In July 2000, the Court of Federal Claims found the case
constituted an equitable claim and recommended that the Benoits
be awarded $415,000. The $415,000 total was derived from the
hearing officer's recommendation of $125,000 for the pecuniary
loss caused by their son's death, $100,000 for the boy's pain
and suffering, $100,000 each to Sergeant and Mrs. Benoit for
loss of their son's love and companionship, and $60,000 for the
wrongful retention of his remains, less $70,000 already paid to
No hearings were held on S. 1834.
On April 17, 2002, the Subcommittee on Immigration and
Claims met in open session and ordered favorably reported the
bill S. 1834, by voice vote, a quorum being present. On July
10, 2002, the Committee met in open session and ordered
favorably reported the bill S. 1834 without amendment by voice
vote, a quorum being present.
Vote of the Committee
There were no recorded votes on S. 1834.
Committee Oversight Findings
In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules
of the House of Representatives, the Committee reports that the
findings and recommendations of the Committee, based on
oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the
descriptive portions of this report.
Performance Goals and Objectives
S. 1834 authorizes funding from the General Treasury in the
amount of $415,000 to be paid to the claimants.
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures
Clause 3(c)(2) of House rule XIII is inapplicable because
this legislation does not provide new budgetary authority or
increased tax expenditures.
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate
In compliance with clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules
of the House of Representatives, the Committee sets forth, with
respect to the bill, S. 1834, the following estimate and
comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, July 11, 2002.
Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman,
Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 1834, an act for the
relief of retired Sergeant First Class James D. Benoit and Wan
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Matthew
Pickford, who can be reached at 226-2860.
Dan L. Crippen, Director.
Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
S. 1834--An act for the relief of retired Sergeant First Class James D.
Benoit and Wan Sook Benoit.
S. 1834 would direct the Secretary of the Treasury to pay
$415,000 to James D. Benoit and Wan Sook Benoit, as
compensation and damages for the wrongful death of their son,
David Benoit, while occupying military family housing supplied
by the Army in Seoul, Korea. Because the act would increase
direct spending, pay-as-you-go procedures would apply.
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Matthew
Pickford, who can be reached at 226-2860. This estimate was
approved by Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant Director for
Constitutional Authority Statement
Pursuant to clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the
House of Representatives, the Committee finds the authority for
this legislation in article 1, section 8 of the Constitution.
Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion
SECTION 1. REQUIREMENT TO PAY CLAIMS
Section 1(a) authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to
pay $415,000 to the Benoits based on the U.S. Court of Federal
Claims determination made pursuant to the congressional
referral by Senate Resolution 129 in the 105th Congress.
Section 1(b) indicates that the payment of $415,000 to the
Benoits will be in full satisfaction of all of the Benoits'
claims against the United States related to the death of their
son and the wrongful retention of his remains.
SECTION 2. LIMITATION ON USE OF FUNDS FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES
Section 2 provides that no more than 10% of the monies
received by the Benoits as a result of this legislation may be
paid to any agent or attorney for services they provided in
connection with the claim. It states that any violation of this
section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of no more than
WEDNESDAY, JULY 10, 2002
House of Representatives,
Committee on the Judiciary,
The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:17 a.m., in
Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. F. James
Sensenbrenner, Jr. [Chairman of the Committee] presiding.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The Committee will be in order. A
working quorum is present.
* * * * *
The next item on the agenda is the consideration of two
private bills, H.R. 2245 and S. 1834, which, without objection,
will be considered en bloc.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Pennsylvania for a
Mr. Gekas. Mr. Chairman, the Subcommittee on Immigration,
Border Security, and Claims reports favorably the bills H.R.
2245 and S. 1834, and moves their favorable recommendation to
the full House.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. Without objection, the bills will
be considered as read and open for amendment at any point.
[The bill, S. 1834, follows:]
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The Chair recognizes the gentleman
from Pennsylvania to strike the last word.
Mr. Gekas. I thank the Chair.
The first bill is for Anisha Foti, the widow of Seth Foti,
a State Department diplomatic courier. The Fotis were married
on June 3, 2000. On August the 23rd, 2000, Seth FotI was killed
in the crash of Gulf Air 072. Although Seth Foti had filled out
all the documents to adjust Anisha's status immigration--
Anisha's status, immigration regulations concerning the
untimely death of a sponsoring spouse allow for a waiver of the
2-year marriage requirement only if the individual's petition
had been approved prior to the death. The interview for
approval of Anisha's petition had not been scheduled before Mr.
Foti was killed. This was a legitimate marriage, and through no
fault of her own that Mrs. Foti has not yet met the marriage
requirement. This case mirrors several other private laws
enacted in the last few years.
The second bill is for the Benoit family. Their 3-year-old
son died after falling out of a seventh-floor window of a
military apartment because of a faulty screen. An autopsy was
performed, during which several of the boy's organs were
disposed of, contrary to the family's religious beliefs. The
family appealed. The Army admitted fault and awarded the family
a total of $70,000. After several denied appeals, the Senate
passed a resolution referring the matter to the Court of
Federal Claims for determination of an appropriate award in the
In July 2000, the court found the case constituted an
equitable claim and recommended that the Benoits be awarded
$485,000 minus the $70,000. S. 1834, the second bill here,
would pay the claimants $415,000 to satisfy that equitable
Chairman Sensenbrenner. The gentlewoman from Texas, Ms.
Ms. Jackson Lee. I think these are constructive and
important actions that will make whole individuals that
suffered under the Government's action. Mr. Foti was a
diplomatic courier and was tragically killed on the job just 2
months after he married his wife. H.R. 2245 was brought to us
by Representative Tom Lantos, and I ask our colleagues to
support it. And S. 1834, as the Chairman of the Subcommittee
indicated, it's relief for retired Sergeant First Class Benoit.
This bill would pay the claimants $415,000 to satisfy their
equitable claim, and this was recommended by the Court of
Federal Claims. This was the loss of the family's 3-year-old
son who died after falling out of a seventh-floor window of a
military apartment because of a faulty screen. I would ask that
my colleagues support this legislation unanimously.
I yield back. Thank you.
Chairman Sensenbrenner. Without objection, Members may
include opening statements in the record on either bill at this
Are there amendments? If there are no amendments, the
question occurs on the motion. The Chair notes the presence of
a reporting quorum. The question occurs on the motion to report
H.R. 2245 and S. 1834 favorably. Those in favor will say aye.
The ayes appear to have it. The ayes have it. The motion to
report favorably is adopted.
Without objection, the Chairman is authorized to move to go
to conference pursuant to House rules. Without objection, the
staff is directed to make any technical and conforming changes,
and all Members will be given 2 days, as provided by House
rules, in which to submit additional dissenting, supplemental,
or minority views.