Supreme Court Action: Limitations and the Federal Tort Claims Act

The bane of my existence is meetings and/or doctors.  I had enough of both last week to prevent me from writing about the lone Supreme Court decision that came out last Wednesday.  That case is United States v. Kwai Fun Wong (13-1074).  The case consolidates two cases with essentially the same issue under the Federal Tort Claims Act.  In each case the respondents missed filing deadlines outlined in the text of the statute.  The question was whether these deadlines were jurisdictional or could they be tolled.

The answer in this case is they can be tolled.  The facts are pretty straightforward.  Wong missed a deadline to file her case in court within 6 months of an agency denial of her claim.  In the other case, Marlene June failed to present her case to an administrative agency within a two year time limit.  Both claimed extenuating circumstances for the delay.  The Court held that deadlines are jurisdictional when Congress explicitly says they are.  The Court analyzed the statute at hand and said that was not the case here.

Justice Kagan delivered the opinion of the Court and was joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor.  Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion and was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Thomas.

Mark

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