32 CFR § 750.23 - Definitions.

§ 750.23 Definitions.

(a) Negligent conduct. Generally, negligence is the failure to exercise that degree of care, skill, or diligence a reasonable person would exercise under similar circumstances. Negligent conduct can result from either an act or a failure to act. The law of the place where the conduct occurred will determine whether a cause of action lies against the Government. 28 U.S.C. 1346(b) and 2674.

(b) Intentional torts. Although any employee who commits an intentional tort is normally considered to be acting outside the scope of employment, the FTCA does allow claimants to seek compensation for injuries arising out of the intentional torts of assault, battery, false imprisonment, false arrest, abuse of process, and malicious prosecution, if committed by a Federal investigative or law enforcement officer. An “investigative or law enforcement officer” is any officer of the United States empowered by law to execute searches, to seize evidence, or to make arrests for violations of Federal law. 28 U.S.C. 2680(h).

(c) Government employees—(1) General. “Employee of the Government,” defined at 28 U.S.C. 2671, includes officers or employees of any Federal agency, members of the U.S. military or naval forces, and persons acting on behalf of a Federal agency in an official capacity.

(2) Government contractors. Government (also referred to as independent) contractors, are those individuals or businesses who enter into contracts with the United States to provide goods or services. Because the definition of “Federal agency,” found at 28 U.S.C. 2671, specifically excludes “any contractor with the United States,” the United States is generally not liable for the negligence of Government contractors. There are, however, three limited exceptions to the general rule, under which a cause of action against the United States has been found to exist in some jurisdictions. They are:

(i) Where the thing or service contracted for is deemed to be an “inherently dangerous activity”;

(ii) where a nondelegable duty in the employer has been created by law; or,

(iii) where the employer retains control over certain aspects of the contract and fails to discharge that control in a reasonable manner.

(3) Employees of nonappropriated-fund activities. Nonappropriated-fund activities are entities established and operated for the benefit of military members and their dependents, and have been judicially determined to be “arms” of the Federal government. These entities operate from self-generated funds, rather than from funds appropriated by Congress. Examples include Navy and Marine Corps Exchanges, officer or enlisted clubs, and recreational services activities. A claim arising out of the act or omission of an employee of a nonappropriated-fund activity not located in a foreign country, acting within the scope of employment, is an act or omission committed by a Federal employee and will be handled in accordance with the FTCA.

(d) Scope of employment. “Scope of employment” is defined by the law of respondeat superior (master and servant) of the place where the act or omission occurred. Although 28 U.S.C. 2671 states that acting within the scope of employment means acting in the line of duty, the converse is not always true. For administrative purposes, a Government employee may be found “in the line of duty,” yet not meet the criteria for a finding of “within the scope of employment” under the law of the place where the act or omission occurred.