In certain situations, a unit commander must initiate an investigation to assess liability for the loss, damage or destruction of government property. This is known as a Financial Liability Investigation of Property Loss (FLIPL). If the Investigative Officer (IO) determines that a Soldier should be charged for the loss or damage, the IO will provide that Soldier with time to submit a rebuttal statement to the recommendation of charges.
With that in mind, here are some of the most common mistakes Soldiers make when dealing with a FLIPL:
1. Waiting Until the Last Minute – Many clients that come to the office with FLIPLs usually come the day the response is due or the day before. This prevents lawyers from being able to provide enough help or assistance in submitting the rebuttal statement. Depending on the method of delivery, Soldiers have either 7 or 15 calendar days to submit a response once a notification of liability has been given to them. Never wait until the last minute to get legal help.
2. First Come, First Served – Under AR 735-5, multiple people can be liable for one item. However, attorneys can only assist one client per FLIPL, and they will take the first client that asks for assistance. No other considerations will be taken on the same FLIPL; first come, first served! Thus, it is important that you contact your Legal Assistance Office as soon as you are given notification of liability.
3. Not Submitting a Response – Many Soldiers believe that it is not necessary to submit a response, or believe that doing so will not help the situation. That is incorrect. Submitting a response is not only your right but also your best shot at getting the FLIPL disapproved. For that reason, when you receive a notification of liability check “will submit a response” and make an appointment with your Legal Assistance Office.
4. Not Seeking Legal Advice – In order for a Soldier to be held liable for loss or damage to a government property, the government must show that the Soldier had a duty of care, he breached that duty by acting negligent, that the negligence was the proximate cause of the loss or destruction, and that a loss or destruction actually occurred. These requirements, although simple in concept, are difficult to argue without some legal background. Therefore, if you receive a notification of liability make sure you contact your Legal Assistance Office.
5. Ignoring the Attorney’s Advice and/or Failing to Provide Information – Soldiers believe that once they make an appointment with a legal assistance attorney, the attorney can make the FLIPL go away. That is not correct. The legal assistance attorney will help you and assist you in writing a compelling and convincing statement to get the FLIPL disapproved. However, the FLIPL is your responsibility and must be submitted by you to the Investigating Officer. Thus, it is important that you listen to the attorney, follow his or her recommendations, and provide as much information as you can, so the attorney can help you write your rebuttal statement.
If you receive a FLIPL or have other legal assistance questions, call the Fort Irwin Legal Assistance Office at (760) 380-5321 and make an appointment.