Saturday, March 30, 2013

Millbrook v. United States

     In the Supreme Court case Millbrook v. United States, a man by the name of Kim Millbrook said that one of the guards of the Federal Bureau of Prisons sexually assaulted and verbally threatened him while he was in their custody. "He alleged that, under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1), the BOP would be liable if he succeeded on his claims of assault and battery. The Government moved to dismiss based on the so-called "intentional tort exception" to the FTCA, § 2680(h), which immunizes the United States from suits for intentional torts, including assault and battery. In response, Millbrook relied on the "law enforcement proviso" to the FTCA, which extends the waiver of sovereign immunity to intentional torts (including assault and battery) based on the 'acts or omissions of investigative or law enforcement officers.'"
The Supreme Court reversed the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in saying that " in the plain language of the "law enforcement proviso" limits its application to acts of law enforcement officers occurring in the course of investigative or law enforcement activities. The Court explained that the FTCA by its terms focuses on the "status of persons whose conduct may be actionable, not the types of activities that may give rise to a tort claim against the United States." In other words, the FTCA's text did not limit the waiver of sovereign immunity to intentional torts committed by law enforcement officers who were executing a search, seizing evidence, or making an arrest. So long as the officer was acting within the scope of his employment and was a "law enforcement officer" as defined by the FTCA, the "law enforcement proviso" applied to waive the United States' sovereign immunity. "

'Man In A Cell' via Shutterstock

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