Limitations and Exceptions Under the Federal Tort Claims Act

Smithmoore P. Myers, Limitations and Exceptions Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 5 Gonz. L. Rev. 175 (1970).


For many years during our life as a nation, citizens have protested the injustice inherent in the doctrine of federal sovereign immunity. “It is as much the duty of government to render prompt justice against itself in favor of citizens as it is to administer the same between private citizens.” So spoke Abraham Lincoln during his presidency, and he spoke for a developing climate of opinion. It was not until 1946, however, that Congress, through the Federal Tort Claims Act, effected the first significant waiver of sovereign immunity in the field of tort law.’ The only substantial amendments to the act became effective in 1967. The act made possible suits against the government in a great number of cases where they were formerly barred; such actions are presented to our courts in great and increasing volume.

It should not be supposed, however, that Congress has completely waived sovereign immunity in this field. There remain limitations as to the individuals who can present claims; there are exceptions as to the type of claims which can be presented. The purpose of this survey is to emphasize how extensive are these limitations and exceptions.

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