Samuel T. Wolf
In an opinion filed on December 29, 2015, Rich v. United States, No. 14-7204, the Fourth Circuit partially reversed a trial court's decision that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over a lawsuit filed by a federal prisoner. In doing so, the court explained how to analyze a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on the discretionary function exemption under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Inmate Joshua Rich was attacked by several other inmates at a federal prison in West Virginia. He was beaten and stabbed several times with a 9-inch homemade knife in the prison’s recreation cage. After undergoing several surgeries to repair his injuries, Rich sued the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act, “alleging that prison officials were negligent in failing to protect him from the attack” by (a) failing to separate him from his attackers; and (b) failing to properly search his attackers before allowing them in the recreation cage.
The government moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that the “discretionary function exception to the FTCA applied both to the prison officials’ decision not to separate Rich from his attackers, as well as to the manner in which the officials searched other inmates prior to placing them with Rich in the recreation cage.” The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia granted the government’s motion to dismiss.
The Fourth Circuit first addressed basic principles of the Federal Tort Claims Act and the discretionary function exemption. The United States “typically is . . . Read More.