SCOTUS finds United States has Waived its Immunity to Liability in Armed Forces Medical Battery

SCOTUS finds United States has Waived its Immunity to Liability in Armed Forces Medical Battery

The Supreme Court issued its opinion today on Levin v. U.S. and had held that the United States' may be sued for medial battery under the court's interpretation of the Gonzales Act.

Typically, an individual citizen may not bring a civil suit against the federal government unless the federal government has waived their sovereign immunity through statute. In the present case, two statutes were at issue: The first, the Federal Torts Claim Act (FTCA) waives the Government's sovereign immunity from tort suits, 28 U. S. C. §1346(b)(1), but excepts from the waiver certain intentional torts, including battery, §2680(h). The second statute at issue, commonly known as the Gonzalez Act, states "[f]or purposes of " the Act, the intentional tort exception to the FTCA "shall not apply to any cause of action arising out of a negligent or wrongful act or omission in the performance of medical . . . functions."

Petitioner Levin argued that the Gonzalez Act seeks to carve out an exclusion to the exception against intentional torts (like battery) when the doctor is a military. The government interpreted the statute merely to reinforce the notion that military physicians are themselves immune from personal liability. A unanimous court held, however, with the petitioner's construction, and determined that the Gonzales Act permits Levin to bring suit against the United States for medical battery.

Citation: Levin v. U.S, 2013 WL 776447

Categories: Supreme Court
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