569 U.S. 50 (2013), 11-10362, Millbrook v. United States

Docket Nº:11-10362
Citation:569 U.S. 50, 133 S.Ct. 1441, 185 L.Ed.2d 531, 81 U.S.L.W. 4223, 24 Fla.L.Weekly Fed. S 123
Opinion Judge:Thomas, Justice
Party Name:KIM MILLBROOK, Petitioner v. UNITED STATES
Attorney:Christopher Julian Paolella argued the cause for petitioner. Anthony A. Yang argued the cause for respondent. Jeffrey S. Bucholtz argued the cause as amicus curiae, appointed by the court, in support of the judgment below.
Case Date:March 27, 2013
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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569 U.S. 50 (2013)

133 S.Ct. 1441, 185 L.Ed.2d 531, 81 U.S.L.W. 4223, 24 Fla.L.Weekly Fed. S 123

KIM MILLBROOK, Petitioner

v.

UNITED STATES

No. 11-10362

United States Supreme Court

March 27, 2013

Argued February 19, 2013

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT

Millbrook v. United States, 477 Fed.Appx. 4 (3d Cir. Pa., 2012)

SYLLABUS

The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) waives the Government's sovereign immunity from tort suits, but excepts from that waiver certain intentional torts, 28 U.S.C. § 2680(h). Section 2680(h), in turn, contains a proviso that extends the waiver of immunity to claims for six intentional torts, including assault and battery, that are based on the " acts or omissions" of an " investigative or law enforcement officer," i.e., a federal officer " who is empowered by law to execute searches, to seize evidence, or to make arrests." Petitioner Millbrook, a federal prisoner, sued the United States under the FTCA, alleging, inter alia, assault and battery by correctional officers. The District Court granted the Government summary judgment, and the Third Circuit affirmed, hewing to its precedent that the " law enforcement proviso" applies only to tortious conduct that occurs during the course of executing a search, seizing evidence, or making an arrest.

Held: The law enforcement proviso extends to law enforcement officers' [185 L.Ed.2d 535] acts or omissions that arise within the scope of their employment, regardless of whether the officers are engaged in investigative or law enforcement activity, or are executing a search, seizing evidence, or making an arrest. The proviso's plain language supports this conclusion. On its face, the proviso applies where a claim arises out of one of six intentional torts and is related to the " acts or omissions" of an " investigative or law enforcement officer." § 2680(h). And by cross-referencing § 1346(b), the proviso incorporates an additional requirement that the " acts or omissions" occur while the officer is " acting within the scope of his office or employment." § 1346(b)(1). Nothing in § 2680(h)'s text supports further limiting the proviso to conduct arising out of searches, seizures of evidence, or arrests. The FTCA's only reference to those terms is in § 2680(h)'s definition of " investigative or law enforcement officer," which focuses on the status of persons whose conduct may be actionable, not the types of activities that may give rise to a claim. This confirms that Congress intended immunity determinations to depend on a federal officer's legal authority, not on a particular exercise of that authority. Nor does the proviso indicate that a waiver of immunity requires the officer to be engaged in investigative or law enforcement activity. The text never uses those terms. Had Congress intended to further narrow the waiver's scope, it could have used language to that effect. See Ali v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 552 U.S. 214, 227, 128 S.Ct. 831, 169 L.Ed.2d 680. Pp. 54-57, 185 L.Ed.2d, at 537-539.

477 Fed.Appx. 4, reversed and remanded.

Christopher Julian Paolella argued the cause for petitioner.

Anthony A. Yang argued the cause for respondent.

Jeffrey S. Bucholtz argued the cause as amicus curiae, appointed by the court, in support of the judgment below.

OPINION

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[133 S.Ct. 1443] Thomas, Justice

Petitioner Kim Millbrook, a prisoner in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), alleges that correctional officers sexually assaulted and verbally threatened him while he was in their custody. Millbrook filed suit in Federal District Court under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § § 1346(b), 2671-2680 (FTCA or Act), which waives the Government's sovereign immunity from tort suits, including those based on certain intentional torts committed by federal law enforcement officers, § 2680(h). The District Court dismissed Millbrook's action, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals held that, while the FTCA waives the United States' sovereign immunity for certain intentional

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torts by law enforcement officers, it only does so when the tortious...

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