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Johnson v. White

This case law update brought to you by Freeway Law, personal injury and motor vehicle crash lawyers. The following is not one of our cases, but it is of some significance, and we thought we should share it with our readers for informational purposes. The information below is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as legal advice.

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Docket: 19-14436

Opinion Date: February 26, 2021

Judge: Newsom

Areas of Law: Personal Injury

Plaintiff, an inmate in federal prison, filed suit against several corrections officers, the prison’s warden, and the United States, claiming that the officers restrained him, removed his clothes, and fondled his genitals and buttocks in violation of, among other things, the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The district court concluded that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that he suffered a physical injury as required by 28 U.S.C. 1346(b)(2). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment, concluding that plaintiff’s argument—that allegations amounting to “sexual contact,” but not a “sexual act,” necessarily constitute “physical injury” within the meaning of section 1346(b)(2)—defies the FTCA’s language and structure. The court also concluded separately that Congress’s inclusion of the term “sexual act” in the 2013 amendment to section 1346(b)(2) implies an intention to exclude the conduct of the sort that the plaintiff has alleged—”sexual contact.” Therefore, the plaintiff has failed to satisfy section 1346(b)(2) and his claim does not fall into the category of cases with respect to which the government has waived its sovereign immunity under the FTCA. The court noted that it does not for a moment condone the corrections officers’ alleged misconduct, but rather condemned it in the strongest possible terms.

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