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Federal Tort Claims Act

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Bureau of Prisons, Justice.


Final rule.


This document adopts as final the proposed rule pertaining to the Federal Tort Claims Act in accordance with the mandate to use plain language. The amendment is intended to provide clearer instructions for filing and processing a claim with the Bureau for money damages for personal injury or death and/or damage to or loss of property.


June 26, 2000.


Rules Unit, Office of General Counsel, Bureau of Prisons, HOLC Room 754, 320 First Street, NW., Washington, DC 20534.

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Roy Nanovic, Office of General Counsel, Bureau of Prisons, phone (202) 514-6655.

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The Bureau of Prisons is revising its regulations in 28 CFR 543, subpart C, on the Federal Tort Claims Act. A proposed rule on this subject was published in the Federal Register on June 14, 1999 (64 FR 32172). The Bureau received comment from three respondents.

One commenter filed a tort claim alleging that the proposed rule and various other Bureau policies were vague and unclear. No specifics, however, were provided as to the proposed tort claim procedures. This commenter's claim is being processed in accordance with the existing procedures for tort claims. The second commenter stated that the proposed revision was plain and concise. This commenter also expressed the opinion that the current procedures were cumbersome and slow. As noted above, the intent of the revision is to provide clearer instructions for filing and processing a claim with the Bureau for money damages for personal injury or death and/or damage to or loss of property. The Bureau believes that revising the procedures for clarity will also serve to help expedite the process. The third commenter was seeking guidance whether to submit a warranty claim or to file a tort claim for damaged property. The tort claim procedures are available for use. It would be a conflict of interest for the Bureau to advise an inmate on the question of using the tort claim procedures or other available avenues of redress in any specific instance.

With due consideration to the comments received, the Bureau has determined to adopt the proposed rule as final. In adopting the proposed rule as final, the Bureau is amending proposed § 543.32(d) to reflect the role of the Department of Justice's Torts Branch in deciding administrative claims for amounts beyond delegated settlement authority. Members of the public may submit comments concerning this rule by writing to the previously cited address. These comments will be considered but will receive no response in the Federal Register.

Executive Order 12866

This rule falls within a category of actions that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has determined not to constitute “significant regulatory actions” under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 and, accordingly, it was not reviewed by OMB.

Executive Order 13132

This regulation will not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with Executive Order 13132, it is determined that this rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Director of the Bureau of Prisons, in accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 605(b)), has reviewed this regulation and by approving it certifies that this regulation will not have a significant economic impact upon a substantial number of small entities for the following reasons: This rule pertains to the correctional management of offenders committed to the custody of the Attorney General or the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, and its economic impact is limited to the Bureau's appropriated funds.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

This rule will not result in the expenditure by State, local and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100,000,000 or more in any one year, and it will not significantly or uniquely affect small governments. Therefore, no actions were Start Printed Page 34364deemed necessary under the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

This rule is not a major rule as defined by § 804 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This rule will not result in an annual effect on the economy of $100,000,000 or more; a major increase in costs or prices; or significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of United States-based companies to compete with foreign-based companies in domestic and export markets.

Plain Language Instructions

We try to write clearly. If you can suggest how to improve the clarity of these regulations, call or write Roy Nanovic at the address listed above.

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List of Subjects in 28 CFR Part 543

  • Claims
  • Prisoners
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Kathleen Hawk Sawyer,

Director, Bureau of Prisons.

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Accordingly, pursuant to the rulemaking authority vested in the Attorney General in 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and delegated to the Director, Bureau of Prisons in 28 CFR 0.96(o), part 543 in subchapter C of 28 CFR, chapter V is amended as set forth below.

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1. The authority citation for 28 CFR part 543 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 18 U.S.C. 3621, 3622, 3624, 4001, 4042, 4081 (Repealed in part as to offenses committed on or after November 1, 1987), 5006-5024 (Repealed October 12, 1984 as to offenses committed after that date), 5039; 28 U.S.C. 509, 510 1346(b), 2671-80; 28 CFR 0.95-0.99, 0.172, 14.1-11.

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2. Subpart C is revised to read as follows:

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Subpart C—Federal Tort Claims Act
Purpose and scope.
Filing a claim.
Processing the claim.

Subpart C—Federal Tort Claims Act

Purpose and scope.

Pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, a claim for money damages for personal injury or death and/or damage to or loss of property must be filed against the United States by the injured party with the appropriate Federal agency for administrative action. General provisions for processing administrative claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act are contained in 28 CFR part 14. The provisions in this subpart describe the procedures to follow when filing an administrative tort claim with the Bureau of Prisons.

Filing a claim.

(a) Who may file a claim? You may file a claim if you are the injured person or the owner of the damaged or lost property. A person acting on your behalf as an agent, executor, administrator, parent, guardian, or other representative may file a claim for you if the person provides a written statement signed by you giving that person permission to act for you. A representative may also file a claim for wrongful death. If you hire a lawyer or authorize a representative to act on your behalf, the agency will correspond only with that representative, and will not continue to correspond with you.

(b) Where do I obtain a form for filing a claim? You may obtain a form from staff in the Central Office, Regional Offices, Bureau institutions, or staff training centers.

(c) Where do I file the claim? You may either mail or deliver the claim to the regional office in the region where the claim occurred. If the loss or injury occurred in a specific regional office or within the geographical boundaries of the region, you may either mail or deliver the claim to that regional office. If the loss or injury occurred in the Central Office, you may either mail or deliver the claim to the Office of General Counsel, Central Office. If the loss or injury occurred in one of the training centers, you may either mail or deliver the claim to the Associate General Counsel, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. 28 CFR part 503 lists Bureau institutions by region and also contains the addresses of the Central Office, regional offices and training centers.

Processing the claim.

(a) Will I receive an acknowledgment letter? Yes. If you have provided all necessary information to process your claim (such as time, date, and place where the incident occurred, and a specific sum of money you are requesting as damages), you will receive an acknowledgment letter indicating the filing date and a claim number. The filing date is the date your claim was first received by either the Department of Justice or an office of the Bureau of Prisons. You should refer to your claim number in all further correspondences with the agency. Additionally, you must inform the agency of any changes in your address. If you fail to provide all necessary information, your claim will be rejected and returned to you requesting supplemental information.

(b) Will I be notified if my claim is transferred? Yes. If your claim is improperly filed, you will be notified by the responsible office that your claim was transferred to another regional office, the Central Office, a training center, or another agency.

(c) Will an investigation be conducted? Yes. The regional office ordinarily refers the claim to the appropriate institution or office for investigation. You may also be required to provide additional information during the investigation. Your failure to respond within a reasonable time may result in the rejection or denial of the claim.

(d) Who will decide my administrative claim? The Regional Counsel or his or her designee reviews the investigation and the supporting evidence and renders a decision of all claims properly filed in the regional office and within regional settlement authority. The Regional Counsel has limited settlement authority (up to an amount established by the Director, Bureau of Prisons). After considering the merits of the claim, the Regional Counsel may deny or propose a settlement of the claim. The General Counsel will investigate and propose settlement for all claims properly filed in the Central Office in accordance with delegated settlement authority. If the proposed settlement exceeds the General Counsel's authority, the General Counsel will seek approval from the appropriate Department of Justice officers.

(e) Will my claim be reviewed by or referred to the Central Office? If the Regional Counsel recommends a proposed settlement in excess of the settlement authority, the claim will be forwarded, with a recommendation, to the Office of General Counsel, Central Office for their review.

(f) Will appreciation or depreciation be considered? Yes. Staff will consider appreciation or depreciation of lost or damaged property in settling a claim.

(g) If my claim is denied or I am dissatisfied with a settlement offer, what are my options? If your claim is denied or you are dissatisfied with a settlement offer, you may request, in writing, that the Bureau of Prisons reconsider your claim in the administrative stage. You should include additional evidence of injury or loss to support your request for reconsideration. If you are dissatisfied with the final agency action, you may file suit in an appropriate U.S. District Start Printed Page 34365Court as no further administrative action is available.

(h) What if I accept a settlement of my claim? If you accept a settlement, you give up your right to bring a lawsuit against the United States or against any employee of the government whose action or lack of action gave rise to your claim.

(i) How long will it take to get a response? Generally, you will receive a decision regarding your claim within six months of when you properly file the claim. If you have not received a letter either proposing a settlement or denying your claim within six months after the date your claim was filed, you may assume your claim is denied. You may proceed to file a lawsuit in the appropriate U.S. District Court.

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[FR Doc. 00-13300 Filed 5-25-00; 8:45 am]