The opinion of the court was delivered by: WORTENDYKE
This is a suit to recover monies alleged to be due the Government by way of refund under the terms of an employment contract between the defendant and the Civil Aeronautics Administration of the Department of Commerce. The defendant counterclaims for salary which he claims is due and owing to him under the same contract.
The facts as I find them are these:
The defendant applied to the C.A.A. for employment as an aircraft communicator in the Territory of Alaska. The defendant's application was accepted, and he was assigned to the C.A.A. Center at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for a training program of approximately ten weeks. The Government bore the cost of training and subsistence during this ten-week period as well as the cost of transportation to Summit, Alaska, where the defendant was subsequently stationed. When his application for employment was accepted on February 26, 1951, the defendant entered into a contract which provides in part:
'Now, Therefore, the Applicant, for and in consideration of his employment and training by the Government, agrees to remain in the employ of the Government in the position of Aircraft Communicator for at least one year unless prevented from doing so by circumstances beyond his control.' (Emphasis supplied.)
At the same time the defendant acknowledged a list of 'Standard Conditions of Employment Outside the Continental United States.' One of the conditions reads as follows:
The defendant completed training as an aircraft communicator and arrived in Summit, Alaska, on May 23, 1951. In November of that year the defendant submitted the following resignation:
'For reasons that I consider personal please accept this letter as my written statement of resignation. It is with great disappointment that I am no longer able to remain at this station. I therefore request that if any settlement is deemed necessary on transportation costs provided me by the United States Government that the Regional Administrator so decide a refund that would be considered a fair and just settlement in view of services rendered. This resignation is effective February 2, 1952.'
In December, 1951 the defendant was reminded that he had agreed to remain in Alaska as an aircraft communicator for one year and that if he resigned before May 23, 1952 he would owe the Government travel and transportation costs from Oklahoma City to Summit, Alaska. The defendant was given thirty days to indicate whether he wished to extend the date of his resignation. The defendant replied that he wished his resignation to become effective as originally submitted.
The defendant left his employment at a time when he had salary due him of $ 326.14. This amount the Government applied against a claimed indebtedness of $ 878.42 for transportation from Oklahoma to Alaska, billing the defendant for the balance of $ 552.28.
During 1952 the defendant consulted counsel, and thereafter on two occasions letters were written to the C.A.A., elaborating upon the grounds which the defendant cited in resigning, to wit, 'reasons that I consider personal.' In the first letter, the explanation give was that 'he was forced to cancel his employment agreement due to the fact that he suffered serious nervous and mental ailments because of his employment.' The second explanation was similar: 'The personal reasons were the fact that he was suffering from nervous and mental illness due to the strain of this type of employment. At the time he did not have the advantage of independent advice and he was of the belief that it was to his disadvantage to have appear on the record that he was suffering from a nervous and mental ailment.'
The defendant never paid the Government the sum of $ 552.28 and consequently this action was commenced. The defendant set up several defenses which, in substance, amount to a contention that his separation from employment before the expiration of one year was brought about by'circumstances beyond his control' in that (1) he was forced to associate with individuals who endeavored to persuade him to engage in homosexual acts, and (2) he suffered serious nervous and mental ailments.
The defendant was the only witness who testified at the trial, and his testimony was confined to living conditions to which he was subjected while at the radio station at Summit, Alaska.