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Can The Us Government Be Sued

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The Federal Tort Claims Act

The U.S. Is Being Sued For $60 Million After A 1-Year-Old In Detention Later | TIME

Do you need permission to sue the government? No, but you must comply with the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act. In 1946, Congress passed the Federal Tort Claims Act which allows plaintiffs injured by the negligent acts of federal employees to file claims against the United States for damages. Our firm has a national FTCA practice and has represented many clients in cases against the US Government.

Suing the government for personal injury or property damage is not an easy process. Before you can sue the U.S. government for personal injury, you must present an administrative claim within 2 years of the date of negligence to the appropriate federal agency. After the claim is filed, the U.S. government has a minimum of six months to take action on the claim before suit can be filed. During this time, the government usually conducts an investigation on the matter and may or may not offer the plaintiff a settlement.

If, after six months, the government takes no action or if a settlement is not reached, a suit can be filed in federal court. Depending on the circumstances of the case, you may have to comply with additional state laws before you can file your case, depending on the jurisdiction. Talk to your lawyer about what conditions must be satisfied before bringing a lawsuit against the U.S. government. You have a limited amount of time in which to file suit in federal court and if you dont file in a timely manner, you forfeit your right to sue.

Immunity Of Government Officers Sued As Individuals For Official Acts

The general rule at common law was that in order for a government official to be protected by absolute immunity for common law torts, not only did the official have to be acting within the outer perimeter of his/her official duties, but the conduct at issue also had to be discretionary in nature. Westfall v. Irwin, 484 U.S. 292, 297-298 . In enacting the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act of 1988 , Congress abrogated this common law rule and extended absolute immunity for common law torts to all federal employees regardless of whether the conduct at issue was discretionary. See United States v. Smith, 499 U.S. 160 . FELRTCA confers such immunity by making the Federal Tort Claims Act the exclusive remedy for all common law torts committed by federal employees while acting within the scope of their office or employment. 28 U.S.C. § 2679. However, the immunity conferred by FELRTCA does not extend or apply to suits against federal employees for violation of the Constitution or federal statutes. Thus, government officials sued for constitutional torts continue to be protected only by qualified immunity. 28 U.S.C. § 2679. See Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 807 Butz v. Economou, 438 U.S. 478 . Where applicable, qualified immunity protects an official from trial and the burdens of litigation. See Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526 .

How Can The Us Government Sue A Business

The U.S. Department of Justice has a message for businesses that try to cheat the government or scam its citizens: Get yourself a good lawyer. In 2012, the DOJ joined a whistleblower in suing Bank of America for a scheme to sell the government toxic mortgage loans . Over the previous year, the government sued 18 other banks over lousy loans that had triggered the housing collapse.

When one party sues another party, that’s called a civil lawsuit. In most civil lawsuits, a plaintiff sues a defendant for damages resulting from the defendant’s allegedly unlawful or negligent behavior. The U.S. federal government, just like any American citizen, has the right to sue in civil court. If the government, or one of its regulatory agencies, believes that a business has broken a federal law or attempted to cheat a federal agency out of money, it can take that business to court.

The DOJ, established in 1870, is the government’s “lawyer.” As such, the DOJ is responsible for overseeing all of the government’s legal actions in both civil and criminal cases. In a criminal case, the government prosecutes an individual — and in rare cases an entire organization — for breaking federal law . If the judge or jury finds a criminal defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the punishment includes fines and possible imprisonment.

Keep reading to learn about two of the most common reasons why the U.S. government sues businesses: breaches of antitrust law and the False Claims Act.

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Considerations When Filing A Claim Against The Government

Knowing how to sue a county government agency or state government agency requires an understanding of local statues, exemptions, and limitations. For example, local and state government employees in Illinois are protected under the 745 ILCS civil immunities act. This is one of the many reasons why it is recommended you work with an experienced attorney in your state. He or she can help submit your notice of claim, meet time limitations, and ensure your case is as strong as possible. Despite these restrictions, taking legal action against government agencies and employees who have caused harm is important. Not only does it increase your chances of earning fair compensation for your damages, it can help others who have been wronged while also increasing government accountability. In cases where a government agency or its employees caused harm to multiple people, a class action lawsuit* could be appropriate. Its also crucial that you file your claim in a timely manner. As mentioned earlier, FTCA claims must be filed within two years of the incident or accident. The agency then has six months to admit or deny your claim. After the agency responds, you have six months to file a lawsuit or accept their ruling. When dealing with state government or district courts, these timelines might be different.

Should You Represent Yourself Or Get An Attorney

Judge says US government can be sued for Flint water ...

The FTCA is a complex law. You will have the best chance to clear all of the procedural hurdles and overcome the arcane legal defenses of the federal government if you have an experienced lawyer on your side. And, as with any personal injury case, if your damages are substantial, you are likely to get a better result if you hire an attorney.

If your case is simple and you aren’t asking for a lot of money, it might not make financial sense to hire an attorney. But remember that a lawyer can help you figure out how much your case is worth and your claim might be worth more than you think. Most personal injury lawyers don’t charge you for an initial consultation. Talk to a lawyer about the range of damages in your case and how personal injury lawyers get paid.

If you decide to handle your own lawsuit, you might be able to get some assistance from the Pro Se Office at the courthouse where you file your claim, which helps plaintiffs who are not represented by an attorney.

If you want to know more about special rules for personal injury claims against the government, read How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim, by Joseph L. Matthews . For help finding an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area check out Nolo’s Lawyer Directory.

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Lawsuits And Subpoenas Against The President

Over the years, the Supreme Court has ruled that:

  • Presidential immunity can apply if the president shows a lawsuit interferes with their duties outlined in the Constitution. If a trial would be too distracting for a current president, the case can be delayed until their term ends.
  • Constitutional arguments for or against a subpoena disappear when a president’s term ends.
  • Presidents can be prosecuted and must comply with any subpoenas once they leave the office.

These laws could change in the future, but for now, they rule the lawsuits brought against any sitting president.

Can I Sue The United States Government

Legal Assistant Personal Injury Law

Maybe you had a slip and fall incident at the local post office, and you ended up with a fractured ankle. Perhaps an FBI agent swerved past you on the freeway, causing you to lose control of your vehicle and ram into other cars. The point is a federal agency or employee was responsible for your injury.

Naturally, the question on your mind would be Can I sue the United States government? If so, how do I go about it? Heres everything you need to know.

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A Guide To Legal Claims Against Federal Or State Agencies

In 2015, 21 youth plaintiffs took on the federal government in a fight for climate action. Three years later, their case reached the U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled unanimously in their favor, making the toxic tort lawsuit a significant piece of U.S. legislative history. The momentous case further proved that despite how cliché it sounds, the people really do have power. U.S. citizens have the right to sue both the state and federal government. This means you can earn compensation if you were hurt or harmed by a government agency or employee. While taking the government to court is possible, its not always straightforward. This article covers the basis of these claims and information on how to sue the government.

Talk To A Personal Injury Lawyer

Suing the U.S. Government

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    Federal Agents Who Violate Individual Rights Can Be Sued For Damages Supreme Court Rules

    Setting an important precedent for law enforcement accountability and religious liberty, the U.S. Supreme Court last month sided with three Muslim men who say they were forced onto the No-Fly List when they refused to becomes informants for the FBI. With the ruling unanimous, Tanzin v. Tanvir reaffirms the principle that individuals can sue federal agents for violating their rights.

    Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah, and Naveed Shinwari are practicing Muslims who were approached by the FBI to spy on their communities. When the men refused to collaborate, they soon found themselves unable to fly. That came with a heavy cost. The men were effectively barred from visiting family members abroad, while Tanvir was forced to quit his job as a trucker.

    To vindicate their rights, Tanvir and the others sued the FBI agents for monetary damages under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act . For nearly 30 years, RFRA has let individuals whose religious exercise has been burdened seek to obtain appropriate relief against a government, which includes any branch, department, agency, instrumentality, and official of the United States.

    But since RFRA doesnt explicitly define what counts as appropriate relief, the case sought to determine whether appropriate relief includes claims for money damages against Government officials in their individual capacities. By a vote of 8-0, the court agreed with Tanvir that it does.

    Filing An Administrative Claim

    In a lawsuit against another person or business, you can typically go straight to court. But if you want to sue the federal government, you must first file an administrative claim with the federal agency that caused you harm. For example, if slipped and fell at the post office, you would file your administrative claim with the U.S. Postal Service.

    The easiest way to prepare your administrative claim is to use the federal government’s Standard Form 95 . You can find the form online or request a copy from the federal agency that caused you harm.

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    Can I Sue The President

    By FindLaw Staff | Reviewed by Bridget Molitor, J.D. | Last updated August 24, 2020

    No, you cannot sue a current President of the United States for just anything. They are immune from liability in a personal capacity when acting within their executive power or when completing official acts.

    You can sue a former or current president for criminal charges that occurred while they were in office, whether the acts were official or unofficial. This happened in 2020 when President Donald Trump was denied absolute immunity for a state criminal subpoena.

    Before or after someone becomes president, they are subject to the same laws that apply to all other members of our society.

    Citizens Suing Their Own State

    Judge Says Us Government Can Be Sued For Flint Water ...

    When determining whether a citizen may sue a state actor , courts will typically use one of four tests:

  • Governmental v proprietary function test
  • If the actor was performing a proprietary function , then the actor is subject to liability
  • If the actor was performing a governmental function , then the actor is not subject to liability
  • 2) Ministerial/operational v. discretionary functions/acts test
  • If the actor is performing a ministerial/operational action, then there is not immunity.
  • If the actor is performing a discretionary action, then there is immunity.
  • 3) Planning v implementational
  • If the actor’s planning of policy results in harm, then there is immunity
  • If the harm happens due to the government’s implementation of the plan, then there is not immunity
  • 4) Non-justiciable v. justiciable
  • If the action is justiciable under regular tort principles, then there is no immunity. If the issue is not justiciable under regular tort principles, then there is immunity.
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    Cases To Which The United States Is A Party

    SECTION 2. Clause 1. The Judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party to Controversies between two or more States between a State and Citizens of another State between Citizens of different States,between Citizens of the same State claiming Land under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.


    Because suits against the United States can be maintained only by congressional consent, it follows that they can be brought only in the manner prescribed by Congress and subject to the restrictions imposed.1016 As only Congress may waive the immunity of the United States from liability, officers of the United States are powerless either to waive such immunity or to confer jurisdiction on a federal court.1017 Even when authorized, suits may be brought only in designated courts,1018 and this rule applies equally to suits by states against the United States.1019 Congress may also grant or withhold immunity from suit on behalf of government corporations.1020

    996 3 J. Story, Commentaries On The Constitution Of The United States 1274 , .

    1003 136 U.S. 211 .

    1007 295 U.S. 463 .

    When Can You Sue The Government

    For a majority of United States history, the doctrine of sovereign immunity prohibited citizens from suing state or federal governments and their employees. Luckily this began to change in the mid-1900s legislation shifted towards increased government accountability and citizen rights. In 1946, the Federal Tort and Claims Act was signed into law, waiving the federal governments immunity to tort claims. After the passing of the FTCA, many states followed suit with individual state tort claims acts. These acts limit sovereign immunity, meaning that federal and state governments can be held liable for certain actions. Citizens can now sue federal agencies and employees for claims of negligence . For example:

    The passing of the FTCA and subsequent state claim acts marked the beginning of a new era of government accountability. However, sovereign immunity still exists in many forms today. Unless a claim is permitted by the FTCA or state law, the government is likely to be protected against a suit. Better understanding the FTCA and state exemptions will help you determine if you have a valid claim.

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    Settling Your Ftca Claim

    You have two opportunities to settle your claim with the federal government. First, during the administrative claim process , you’ll have a chance to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with the government attorney assigned to your case.

    Then, if you file a lawsuit in federal court, you’ll have a second chance to negotiate with a new team of attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice.

    Do You Want To Sue The President

    Qualified Immunity: Why Police Cant Be Sued

    Due to freedom of speech rights, the media reports on all lawsuits filed against a president. Whether a case leads to impeachment, delayed action, or the claim is dropped altogether, the people have a right to know about it.

    You can bring a lawsuit against the president with the help of an attorney. Finding one to take the case can be difficult without ironclad evidence. Criminal charges can be brought at any time, but civil cases will typically need to wait to start until the president’s term ends.

    An attorney can help you understand the correct party to sue to get the best chance at recovering damages.

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