924 F.2d 193 (11th Cir. 1991), 89-6113, Schlaebitz v. United States Dept. of Justice
|Citation:||924 F.2d 193|
|Party Name:||Thomas W. SCHLAEBITZ, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, United States Marshall Service, Five (5) Unknown United States Marshall Agents, United States Marshall Dave Little, United States Parole Commission, Defendants-Appellees.|
|Case Date:||February 19, 1991|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit|
Dexter W. Lehtinen, U.S. Atty., Miami, Fla., Barbara K. Bisno, Carole E. Herman, Linda Collins Hertz, Asst. U.S. Attys., for defendants-appellees.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Before KRAVITCH and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges, and LYNNE [*], Senior District Judge.
The issue in this appeal is whether the United States and its employees are exempt from liability for claims arising from the detention of goods by law enforcement officers who are not part of the Customs Service. We hold that they are exempt.
Thomas Schlaebitz was arrested in the Miami International Airport for violating federal parole. He and a friend, William Ogle, had been deported from Grand Cayman Island, and had just arrived in the
United States. Schlaebitz claims that he possessed sixteen pieces of luggage on his arrival, that he passed through customs without incident, and that, as he was proceeding through the airport, the United States Marshalls arrested him and confiscated his property. The property was later released to a third party. Schlaebitz contests this disposition of the property and claims damages of $11,000. He contends that he filed a claim with the Marshall's Service and never received a response.
Schlaebitz then filed the present action under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2674, naming the Department of Justice, the United States Marshall Service, five unknown Marshalls, Marshall David Little, and the United States Parole Commission. He has proceeded pro se.
The government contends that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because the Federal Tort Claims Act specifically exempts officials engaged in the actions alleged in the complaint. The Tort Claims Act does provide general authority for suits against the government: "The United States shall be liable, respecting the provisions of this title relating to tort claims, in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances...." 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2674. Section 2680, however, establishes several exceptions to this broad waiver of sovereign immunity, including liability for the detention of goods for tax and customs situations: "The provisions of this chapter and section 1346(b) of this...
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