Legal Memorandum: Requirements of a Claim under the FTCA

Issue: How is a claim stated under the Federal Tort Claims Act?

Area of Law: Government Claims, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA); Claim for relief; Requirements
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 785 F.2d 121; 759 F. Supp. 886; 885 F. Supp. 410
Cited Statutes: 28 U.S.C. § 2675;
Date: 04/01/2001

          A plaintiff may state a cognizable claim for relief under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) by alleging that the United States would be liable under state law if it were a private person.  Federal Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 477 (1994).  The district court has jurisdiction over claims for damages against the United States for personal injury, death, or injury or loss of personal property, due to the act or omission of a governmental employee acting in the scope of employment, if the United States would face liability for such an act or omission if it were a private person.  Id. at 477.

As a general matter, the plaintiff bringing an FTCA claim must comply with the notice of claim requirements set forth in the Act.  See 28 U.S.C. § 2675 (1994) (stating that an action should not be instituted until the claimant has “first presented the claim to the appropriate Federal agency and [the] claim [has been] finally denied by the agency in writing and sent by certified or registered mail,” and that if the agency does not finally dispose of the claim within six months, the plaintiff may proceed to court).  The administrative filing provision is jurisdictional and may not be waived.  Henderson v. United States, 785 F.2d 121, 123 (4th Cir. 1986).  However, the courts have not interpreted the filing provision as requiring strict or formal compliance.  See, e.g., 55 Motor Avenue Co. v. Liberty Indus. Finishing Corp., […]

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