Block v. Neal

LOCATION: Residence of Gates

DOCKET NO.: 81-1494
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 460 US 289 (1983)
ARGUED: Jan 19, 1983
DECIDED: Mar 07, 1983

Carter G. Phillips - on behalf of the Petitioners
Lenny L. Croce - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Block v. Neal

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 19, 1983 in Block v. Neal

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 07, 1983 in Block v. Neal

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

The opinion for the Court in 81-1494, Block versus Neal will be announced by Justice Marshall.

Thurgood Marshall:

This case is here on writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

It raises a particular issue concerning the scope of the Federal Tort Claims Act.

The respondent received the loan from the Farmers Home Administration for the construction of a prefabricated house.

The -- that agency is authorized to provide technical assistance to those who receive its housing loans.

According to respondent's complaint, the company that built her home failed to comply with plans that have been submitted to and approved by the officials of the Farmers Home Administration in Roane County, Tennessee.

Although the officials inspected the house during and at the completion of construction, respondent claims that they did not take adequate steps to ensure that the builder carryout construction in a proper manner.

As a result, the defects in the house were not identified until months after final payment was made and respondent setup residence.

The Court of Appeals found that respondent's complaint stated a claim that Government officials were negligent in supervising the construction of her house and held that this negligent action could be brought against the Government under the Tort Claims Act.

The question in this case is whether the respondent's action is excluded from the Act's coverage in 28 U.S.C. which excludes any claim arising out of misrepresentation.

The Court of Appeals found the respondent's claim is not barred by this revision of the Tort Claims Act because she does not seek to recover on the basis of misstatements made by the governmental officials.

We agree.

Although the Farmers Home Administration may have undertaken both to supervise construction of respondent's house and to give her information regarding the progress of construction, her claim is based solely on the form of conduct.

The essence of an action for misrepresentation is a communication of misinformation on which the recipient relies.

Here, the duty of Government officials to use due care to ensure that the builder adhered to the approved plan and cured all defects before completing construction were distinct from any duty to use due care in communicating information to the respondent.

And accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.

The Chief Justice concurs in the judgment.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Thank you Justice Marshall.