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The Government is not liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for injuries to servicemen where the injuries arise out of or are in the course of activity incident to service.
In the three actions underlying the appeal, petitioners servicemen, while on active duty and not on furlough, sustained injuries due to the negligence of others in the armed forces. Two courts of appeals affirmed the trial courts' dismissal of the actions, concluding that the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) did not charge respondent United States with liability in these types of cases. Another federal court of appeals held that the FTCA applied to claims of active duty military personnel.
Was the United States liable under the FTCA for injuries to servicemen when the injuries arose out of or were in the course of activity incident to service?
The United States Supreme Court, after upholding the principle that the relation between persons in service and the Government are fundamentally derived from federal sources and governed by federal authority and that no federal law recognizes a recovery such as the servicemen (or their estates) seek, concluded that the United States was not liable under the FTCA for injuries to servicemen when the injuries arose out of or were in the course of activity incident to service. The Court stated that to impose such liability would be a radical departure from established law in the absence of an express congressional command.