United States v. Wong
June 30, 2014
Case #: 13-1074
Court Below: 373 F.3d 952 (9th Cir. 2004)
Full Text Opinion: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2013/10/09/10-36136.pdf
Tort Law: Whether 28 U.S.C. § 2401(b) of the Federal Tort Claims Act is a “jurisdictional” statute and entitled to presumptions of equitable tolling.
In 1946, Congress enacted the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2401(b), which waives the United States' sovereign immunity for claims against the United States for monetary damages due to "torts committed by federal employees.” Respondent sued the United States and the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) for claims due to wrongful detention conditions. Under 28 U.S.C. §2401(b), respondent was required to wait six months before being able to do so. Initially, the INS denied respondent's claim. However, the judge in charge of the case did not issue recommendations permitting the respondent to amend the FTCA claim until three weeks after the six month filing deadline so respondent could amend the case.
The district court, relying on Marley v. United States, held that §2401(b) was “jurisdictional” and equitable tolling was not allowed. The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded, overruling Marley. The Supreme Court granted certiorari on the issue of whether the act is jurisdictional, and thus entitled to presumptions.
Respondent argues that she followed administrative procedures properly, as the lower court ruled the placement of §2401(b) does not show Congress intended it to be jurisdictional. The lack of exceptions by Congress cannot be read to imply Congress meant §2401(b) to be jurisdictional. As such, §2401(b) is entitled to presumptions in favor of equitable tolling.