Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hui v. Castaneda, 130 S.Ct. 1845 (2010)

The Public Heath Services Act (42 U.S.C (a) unambiguously precludes a Bivens action against U.S. Public Health Services personnel for Constitutional violations arising out of their official duties. The plaintiff (by his estate) sued the U.S Government for, in effect, medical negligence committed during his detention (presumably an illegal alien), and alleged violation of Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights. The Ninth Circuit read an exception into the Act allowing the suit to go forward. The Supreme Court unanimously reversed. The Act is explicit in foreclosing Constitutional violations allegedly committed by a federal employee providing medical services, and the plaintiff only sued to get attorney fees and exemplary damages. The plaintiff has a remedy under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Supreme Court reverses the Ninth Circuit decision reported in Castenda v. U.S., 546 F.3d 682 (9th Cir. 2008): 9-0.

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