Simmons v. Himmelreich

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: November 6, 2015
  • Case #: 15-109
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 766 F.3d 576 (2014)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the court erred in ruling the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA) judgment bar under 28 U.S.C. 2676 prevents a lawsuit against federal officials because the very same issue was involved in an earlier lawsuit.

Respondent is a federal inmate serving a 240-month sentence for the production of child pornography. While serving his sentence, respondent was assaulted by another inmate. Respondent alleges the petitioners, who are staff members at the prison, were notified of a planned attack on Respondent, but chose to place respondent in the general prison population where he was eventually attacked. Respondent alleges petitioners’ actions in connection with the assault on respondent violated his Eighth Amendment rights.

The district court applied the FTCA judgment bar under section 1346(b), which “protects a federal employee from lawsuits where the claimant brought an action against the U.S. under the FTCA, that action has gone to judgment, and the suit against the employee concerns the same subject as before” and determined the respondent was not able to re-file a lawsuit against petitioners as the lawsuit was the same as the first, before granting the petitioners’ motion to dismiss the respondent’s Eighth Amendment claim. The same question was granted certiorari in Will v. Hallock, 546 U.S. 345 (2006), but the question was not resolved because the Second Circuit lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal.

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