Saturday, January 6, 2007

Harkum v. US (Maryland U.S.D.C.)(not approved for publication)

Decided December 29, 2006 -- Opinion by Judge J. Frederick Motz (not approved for publication)

In a brief memorandum opinion providing relatively few factual details of the case, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland reviewed a motion for summary judgment filed by the United States regarding Plaintiff's six civil counts under Maryland common law arising out of the arrest and shooting of Joseph Schultz. The opinion does not specify either the precise causes of action or the relationship between Plaintiff and Joseph Schultz, but indicates that Plaintiff was in Schultz's presence when a federal agent shot him.

The Court held that sovereign immunity entitled the United States to judgment as a matter of law on Counts I and II of the complaint, holding that the discretionary function exception to the waiver of sovereign immunity under the Federal Tort Claims Act applies to those counts. The Court denied summary judgment against all four remaining counts, finding that a reasonable fact finder could find that the federal agent who shot Schultz did so with recklessness or gross negligence and therefore find for Plaintiff.

The Court also mentioned the existence of a separate, prior federal civil action by Schultz against federal agent Braga, distinguishing the cases in a brief footnote.

The full opinion and associated order are available in PDF format.

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