Zoula v. United States, 14901.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation217 F.2d 81
PartiesEmil ZOULA and Charles C. STERLING, v. UNITED STATES of America.
Docket NumberNo. 14901.,14901.
Decision Date28 January 1955

217 F.2d 81 (1954)

Emil ZOULA and Charles C. STERLING,

No. 14901.

United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit.

November 24, 1954.

Rehearing Denied January 28, 1955.

217 F.2d 82

Kenneth M. Henson, Frank D. Foley, S. E. Kelly, Jr., B. H. Chappell and Forrest L. Champion, Jr., Foley, Chappell, Kelly & Champion, Kenneth M. Henson, Columbus, Ga., for appellants.

Morton Hollander, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Paul A. Sweeney, Chief Appellate Section, Washington, D. C., Joseph H. Davis, Asst. U. S. Atty., Warren E. Burger, Asst. Atty. Gen., Frank O. Evans, U. S. Atty., Macon, Ga., for appellee.

Before HUTCHESON, Chief Judge, and HOLMES and RUSSELL, Circuit Judges.

HUTCHESON, Chief Judge.

Having sustained injuries to person and property in an automobile collision on the Fort Benning Military Reservation with an army ambulance as the result of the alleged negligence of its driver, plaintiffs, members of the armed forces in service at the post, sued under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S. C.A. §§ 1346, 2671 et seq., to recover therefor.

The causes consolidated for hearing and plaintiffs' and defendant's motions for summary judgment coming on to be heard on affidavits and evidence, the district judge, upon the undisputed facts and for the reasons1 set out in his

217 F.2d 83
memorandum for judgment, denied plaintiffs', and granted defendant's, motion for judgment

Appealing from the judgments denying them recovery, plaintiffs are here urging upon us that Brooks v. United States, 337 U.S. 49, 69 S.Ct. 918, 93 L. Ed. 1200, and the district court cases2 cited by them, as to the personal injuries sustained, and Lund v. United States, D.C., 104 F.Supp. 756, as to the property damages sued for, require a contrary holding.

The United States on its part advancing three propositions3 and arraying many statutes and decisions in support of them, vigorously urges upon us that the judgments appealed from were correctly entered and should be affirmed.

In respect of the claims for personal injuries, the United States, pointing to the numerous statutes dealing with and providing for administrative compensation, puts forward as its primary reliance the existence of a comprehensive and uniform Federal System of Compensation Benefits for injuries or death of servicemen and the decision in Feres v. United States, 340 U.S. 135, 71 S.Ct. 153, 95 L.Ed. 152, holding that the existence thereof precludes resort by servicemen or their dependents to the Federal Tort Claims Act.

To appellants' insistence that the Brooks and not the Feres case is controlling here, appellee replies correctly, we think, that it is the Feres and not the Brooks case which states the generally controlling principles where servicemen are concerned, and that to the extent that the Brooks case is still the law, it should be, and is, confined within the narrow limits of its precise facts.

In respect of the property damage claim of plaintiff Sterling, the United States, citing in support Fidelity-Phenix Fire Ins. Co. of New York v. U. S., D.C., 111 F.Supp. 899-903, relies with

217 F.2d 84
equal, if not greater, assurance on the additional reason that the complete and comprehensive system of administrative compensation for property damage sustained by military personnel incident to their service, precludes resort by members of the armed services to the Tort Claims Act for such property damage

We find ourselves in general agreement with these positions taken by appellee. Of the clear opinion that to the extent that the decision of the Supreme Court in the Brooks case has survived the decision in the Feres case, it must and will be confined strictly to its precise facts, we are of the equally clear opinion that the facts of this case do not bring it within those narrow confines.

This is to say that only if the majority opinion in the Brooks case can be regarded as laying down the general rule covering the application of the Federal Tort Claims Act to men in the armed forces, and the Feres case a narrow exception to it, could the plaintiffs in this case prevail. It is to say, too, that the undisputed facts in this case bring plaintiffs within the intent and meaning, indeed within the precise language of the Feres case 340 U.S. 135, 71 S.Ct. 159, "The government is not liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for injuries to servicemen where as here the injuries arise out of or are in the course of activity incident to service", for, as the district judge pointed out in his memorandum, while the plaintiffs were in civilian clothes and entitled to a pass, they were still on the post and still "in the course of activity incident to service". Unless, therefore, the carefully chosen words used in the Feres opinion are to be given the confined and unnatural meaning, sought to be attributed to them...

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  • Miller v. U.S., 79-1964
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • 18. März 1981
    ...and is subject to the possibility of immediate orders. Chambers v. United States, 357 F.2d 224 (8th Cir. 1966); Zoula v. United States, 217 F.2d 81 (5th Cir. 1954); Mariano v. United States, 444 F.Supp. 316 Page 485 (E.D.Va.1977), aff'd, 605 F.2d 721 (4th Cir. 1979). Theoretically, his off-......
  • Hale v. United States, 19185.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 26. September 1969
    ...Co. v. United States, 222 F.2d 942 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 350 U.S. 837, 76 S.Ct. 74, 100 L.Ed. 747 (1955); Zoula v. United States, 217 F.2d 81 (5th Cir. 1955); Gursley v. United States, 232 F.Supp. 614 (D.Colo.1964); Homlitas v. United States, 202 F.Supp. 520 (D.Or.1962); Sapp v. United ......
  • Watkins v. United States, Civ. A. No. 176-91.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Georgia)
    • 3. Januar 1977
    ...v. United States, 490 F.2d 86 (5th Cir. 1974); Lowe v. United States, supra; Shults v. United States, supra; Zoula v. United States, 217 F.2d 81 (5th Cir. 1954). In Zoula, the court flatly rejected the notion that Feres only applied where servicemen are injured "as a result of, or while act......
  • Parker v. U.S., 77-3448
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 13. Februar 1980
    ...to be acting "incident to service." E. g., Feres v. United States 340 U.S. 135, 71 S.Ct. 153, 95 L.Ed. 152 (1950); Zoula v. United States, 217 F.2d 81 (5th Cir. 1954) (unexercised right to pass). We find that the district court erred in holding that Parker's status was closer to Feres than ......
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