San Diego Law Review

Library of Congress Authority File


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In Westfall v. Erwin, the United Stated Supreme Court severally restricted the scope of protection afforded to federal employees from common law tort liability. Shortly thereafter, Congress enacted the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act of 1988 which immunized federal employees from liability for common law torts committed within the scope of their employment. In doing so, Congress provided that the exclusive remedy for such torts is through an action against the United Stated under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). This Note presents a discussion of the background and history of the doctrine of offical absolute immunity culminating in the Westfall decision and Congress' response to that decision. The analysis reveals that the federal government may now continue to escape liability from its own negligence through the discretionary function loophole in the FTCA. In conclusion, the Act is generally beneficial to both the federal government and to plaintiffs injured by the government. The benefits to the government, however, are weightier and as a result this factor should be taken into account by the federal courts when acting as the ultimate arbiter of the Act's scope and effect.

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