Congress excluded punitive damages from the damages available under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). As a result of this exclusion, damage calculations in wrongful death cases are often perceived to be confusing aspects of FTCA litigation. This confusion lies in the determination of which aspects of a state's wrongful death damage award are permitted by the FTCA and which are barred by the Act's punitive damage exclusion. However, in the 1992 FTCA personal injury case Molzof v. United States, the Supreme Court held that the FTCA's punitive damages exclusion bars only the recovery of what are legally considered to be punitive damages according to traditional common law principles. Consequently, judges and practitioners must carefully consider the effect of Molzof on FTCA wrongful death damage awards. This article examines Moizof's limited effect on the calculation of wrongful death damages in order to curtail the misinterpretation and misapplication of the FTCA in light of the Molzof decision. Ultimately the article concludes that in light of Molzof, courts should exclude the punitive portions of a state's wrongful death act when calculating damages in FTCA wrongful death actions.
Northern Illinois University Law Review
Richardson, Cyrus B. III
"Understanding the Limited Effect of Moziof v. United States On Wrongful Death Damages Under the Federal Tort Claims Act,"
Northern Illinois University Law Review: Vol. 20:
1, Article 5.
Cyrus B. Richardson, III, Understanding the Limited Effect of Moziof v. United States On Wrongful Death Damages Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 20 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 69 (2000).