Federal Tort Claims Act

On July, 28, 1945 B-25 Mitchell bomber crashed into the Empire State building on the north side. The two engine bomber was being piloted by Colonel William Smith, Jr. during heavy fog. The bomber hit the tower between floors 79 and 80. The result of the crash were 14 deaths, 11 in the Empire State building, Colonel Smith, and two other occupants that were aboard the bomber. Following the crash, the federal government offered compensation to the victims’ families.

Some of the families accepted the compensation, while others initiated lawsuits against the government which resulted in landmark legislation. In 1946, the Federal Tort Claims Act was passed. This act gave American citizens the ability to sue the federal government. The act was made retroactive back to 1945 to allow families of the crash victims to receive compensation. The Federal Tort Claims Act

The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) is a statue in which the United States federal government permits tort suits to be brought against itself. Although exceptions exist, the act holds the government liable for injuries that are 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 (Congressional Research Service , 2007).

Congress passed the act to reduce the adverse impact of the doctrine of sovereign immunity. This doctrine that states “the government or state cannot commit a legal wrong and is immune from civil suit or criminal prosecution” (Sovereign immunity, 2009, para. 1). The US federal government has sovereign immunity, and unless it waives its immunity or consents to a suit, the government may not be sued. The United States Congress alone has the power to qualify or waive the immunity. With exceptions, the act made the US government

” liable for injury or loss of property, or personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the government while acting within the scope of his office or employment, under circumstances where the United States, if a private person would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred. ” (Congressional Research Service, 2007, para. 1) Torts The Federal Tort Claims Act allows private citizens to bring suit against the federal government for torts if a federal employee acting on behalf of the government commits the act.

A tort is “a harmful wrong (other than a breach of contract) for which courts will provide a remedy, usually damages, to a private party” (Gifford, 2005, para. 1). Any person whom suffers damages may have the right to file a suit using tort laws in order to receive restitution from the person liable or legally responsible for the injuries received. Injury in tort law has a broad definition. It does not include just physical injury, it also includes an invasion of individual interests.