Federal Tort Claims Act
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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The Federal Tort Claims Act is the statute by which the United States authorizes tort suits to be brought against itself. With exceptions, it makes the United States liable for injuries caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any federal employee acting within the scope of his employment, in accordance with the law of the state where the act or omission occurred. Three major exceptions, under which the United States may not be held liable, even in circumstances where a private person could be held liable under state law, are the Feres doctrine, which prohibits suits by military personnel for injuries sustained incident to service the discretionary function exception, which immunizes the United States for acts or omissions of its employees that involve policy decisions and the intentional tort exception, which precludes suits against the United States for assault and battery, among some other intentional torts, unless they are committed by federal law enforcement or investigative officials. This report discusses, among other things, the application of the Feres doctrine to suits for injuries caused by medical malpractice in the military, the prohibition of suits by victims of atomic testing, Supreme Court cases interpreting the discretionary function exception, the extent to which federal employees may be held liable for torts they commit in the scope of their employment, and the government contractor defense to products liability design defect suits. In the 110th Congress, two bills have been introduced that would amend the Federal Tort Claims Act H.R. 2249, the Federal Tort Claim Reform Act of 2007, and H.R. 6093, the Carmelo Rodriguez Military Medical Accountability Act of 2008.
- Government and Political Science
- Sociology and Law
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations