28 CFR § 14.6 - Dispute resolution techniques and limitations on agency authority.
(a) Guidance regarding dispute resolution. The administrative process established pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2672 and this part 14 is intended to serve as an efficient effective forum for rapidly resolving tort claims with low costs to all participants. This guidance is provided to agencies to improve their use of this administrative process and to maximize the benefit achieved through application of prompt, fair, and efficient techniques that achieve an informal resolution of administrative tort claims without burdening claimants or the agency. This section provides guidance to agencies only and does not create or establish any right to enforce any provision of this part on behalf of any claimant against the United States, its agencies, its officers, or any other person. This section also does not require any agency to use any dispute resolution technique or process.
(1) Whenever feasible, administrative claims should be resolved through informal discussions, negotiations, and settlements rather than through the use of any formal or structured process. At the same time, agency personnel processing administrative tort claims should be trained in dispute resolution techniques and skills that can contribute to the prompt, fair, and efficient resolution of administrative claims.
(2) An agency may resolve disputed factual questions regarding claims against the United States under the FTCA, including 28 U.S.C. 2671-2680, through the use of any alternative dispute resolution technique or process if the agency specifically agrees to employ the technique or process, and reserves to itself the discretion to accept or reject the determinations made through the use of such technique or process.
(3) Alternative dispute resolution techniques or processes should not be adopted arbitrarily but rather should be based upon a determination that use of a particular technique is warranted in the context of a particular claim or claims, and that such use will materially contribute to the prompt, fair, and efficient resolution of the claims. If alternative dispute resolution techniques will not materially contribute to the prompt, fair, and efficient resolution of claims, the dispute resolution processes otherwise used pursuant to these regulations shall be the preferred means of seeking resolution of such claims.
(b) Alternative dispute resolution -
(1) Case-by-case. In order to use, and before using, any alternative dispute resolution technique or process to facilitate the prompt resolution of disputes that are in excess of the agency's delegated authority, an agency may use the following procedure to obtain written approval from the Attorney General, or his or her designee, to compromise a claim or series of related claims.
(i) A request for settlement authority under paragraph (b)(1) of this section shall be directed to the Director, Torts Branch, Civil Division, Department of Justice, (“Director”) and shall contain information justifying the request, including:
(A) The basis for concluding that liability exists under the FTCA;
(B) A description of the proposed alternative dispute resolution technique or process and a statement regarding why this proposed form of alternative dispute resolution is suitable for the claim or claims;
(C) A statement reflecting the claimant's or claimants' consent to use of the proposed form of alternative dispute resolution, indicating the proportion of any additional cost to the United States from use of the proposed alternative dispute resolution technique or process that shall be borne by the claimant or claimants, and specifying the manner and timing of payment of that proportion to be borne by the claimant or claimants;
(D) A statement of how the requested action would facilitate use of an alternative dispute resolution technique or process;
(E) An explanation of the extent to which the decision rendered in the alternative dispute resolution proceeding would be made binding upon claimants; and,
(F) An estimate of the potential range of possible settlements resulting from use of the proposed alternative dispute resolution technique.
(ii) The Director shall forward a request for expedited settlement action under paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section, along with the Director's recommendation as to what action should be taken, to the Department of Justice official who has authority to authorize settlement of the claim or related claims. If that official approves the request, a written authorization shall be promptly forwarded to the requesting agency.
(2) Delegation of authority. Pursuant to, and within the limits of, 28 U.S.C. 2672, the head of an agency or his or her designee may request delegations of authority to make any award, compromise, or settlement without the prior written approval of the Attorney General or his or her designee in excess of the agency's authority. In considering whether to delegate authority pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2672 in excess of previous authority conferred upon the agency, consideration shall be given to:
(i) The extent to which the agency has established an office whose responsibilities expressly include the administrative resolution of claims presented pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act;
(ii) The agency's experience with the resolution of administrative claims presented pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2672;
(iii) The Department of Justice's experiences with regard to administrative resolution of tort claims arising out of the agency's activities.
(c) Monetary authority. An award, compromise, or settlement of a claim by an agency under 28 U.S.C. 2672, in excess of $25,000 or in excess of the authority delegated to the agency by the Attorney General pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2672, whichever is greater, shall be effected only with the prior written approval of the Attorney General or his or her designee. For purposes of this paragraph, a principal claim and any derivative or subrogated claim shall be treated as a single claim.
(d) Limitations on settlement authority -
(1) Policy. An administrative claim may be adjusted, determined, compromised, or settled by an agency under 28 U.S.C. 2672 only after consultation with the Department of Justice when, in the opinion of the agency:
(i) A new precedent or a new point of law is involved; or
(ii) A question of policy is or may be involved; or
(iii) The United States is or may be entitled to indemnity or contribution from a third party and the agency is unable to adjust the third party claim; or
(iv) The compromise of a particular claim, as a practical matter, will or may control the disposition of a related claim in which the amount to be paid may exceed $25,000 or may exceed the authority delegated to the agency by the Attorney General pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2672, whichever is greater.
(2) Litigation arising from the same incident. An administrative claim may be adjusted, determined, compromised, or settled by an agency under 28 U.S.C. 2672 only after consultation with the Department of Justice when the agency is informed or is otherwise aware that the United States or an employee, agent, or cost-plus contractor of the United States is involved in litigation based on a claim arising out of the same incident or transaction.
(e) Procedure. When Department of Justice approval or consultation is required, or the advice of the Department of Justice is otherwise to be requested, under this section, the written referral or request of the Federal agency shall be directed to the Director at any time after presentment of a claim to the Federal agency, and shall contain:
(1) A short and concise statement of the facts and of the reasons for the referral or request;
(2) Copies of relevant portions of the agency's claim file; and
(3) A statement of the recommendations or views of the agency.
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