Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Williams v. United States case brief

Williams v. United States case brief summary
242 F.3d 169 (2001)

Plaintiff administratrix appealed the decision from the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, which granted defendant United States' motion to dismiss, based on the contention that the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C.S. § 2671 et seq., did not waive its immunity for claims asserted.


Plaintiff administratrix claimed that 28 U.S.C.S. §§ 1346(b), 2671-2680 waived the United States' sovereign immunity with respect to a claim that an Indian hospital operated by the United States on the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina wrongfully refused emergency medical treatment of a non-Indian person, causing his death. 

  • Plaintiff could not establish that there was a duty under the "law of the place" where the alleged tort occurred that would have required a private hospital under like circumstances to treat the decedent. 
  • Even assuming the law of the place included the duties imposed by 42 U.S.C.S. § 1395dd, Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, those duties were not applicable. 
  • At most, plaintiff could have argued that hospital was authorized to treat non-Indians and was negligent in failing to exercise that discretion, but this form of tort was excepted from the waiver of the FTCA. 
  • Therefore, the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction.

The court affirmed the district court's judgment dismissing the claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

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