Friday, December 6, 2013

United States v. Kubrick case brief

United States v. Kubrick case brief summary
444 U.S. 111 (1979)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Respondent veteran filed an action under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C.S. § 2674, against petitioner United States. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed a judgment rendered in favor of respondent, finding, inter alia, that the two year statute of limitations did not bar respondent's claim.

CASE FACTS
After receiving treatment at a government hospital and learning that the treatment given caused injury to his hearing, the veteran filed a suit against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (Act), 28 U.S.C.S. § 2674.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The district court rendered judgment in favor of the veteran finding, inter alia, that the two year statute of limitations found in 28 U.S.C.S. § 2401(b) did not bar his claim. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the statute of limitations did not run when a plaintiff showed he did not know, nor should have known, facts that would have alerted a reasonable person to the possibility that the treatment was improper.

DISCUSSION
  • On certiorari, the Court held that there was nothing in the language or in the legislative history of the Act that provided a substantial basis for the court of appeal's construction of the accrual language of § 2401(b). 
  • The Court held that Congress did not intend that accrual of a claim must await awareness by the veteran that his injury was negligently inflicted as he was armed with the facts about the harm done to him, and could have protected himself by seeking advice in the medical and legal community. 
  • The Court reversed the order.
CONCLUSION
The Court reversed the order from the court of appeals that found that the two year statute of limitations did not bar respondent veteran's claim. The Court held that accrual of the claim was not intended to await awareness by respondent that his injury was negligently inflicted when he was armed with the facts about the harm done to him.

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