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Cestonaro v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
211 F.3d 749 (2000)


An Italian citizen, Daniele Cestonaro, was shot and killed one evening near his vehicle in the Hospital Street parking lot while he and his family were vacationing in the Virgin Islands. The parking lot fell within the boundaries of the Christiansted National Historic Site that was owned and controlled by the National Park Service (NPS), an agency of the United States Department of Interior (defendant). Daniele’s wife, Giovana (plaintiff), filed suit in federal district court against the NPS under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) and the Virgin Islands Wrongful Death Statute, alleging that the NPS was negligent in failing to provide adequate lighting, signs, or other warnings of the dangers of nighttime parking in the lot. Cestonaro’s complaint alleged that, although the area was not the typical paved and marked parking lot, the general public had used the space as a parking lot since the 1940’s. Additionally, Cestonaro claimed that the NPS was aware that crimes regularly occurred in the lot. Although the NPS did not post signs or warn individuals of the dangers of nighttime parking in the lot, it installed and maintained five large lights illuminating the lot at night. The district court granted the NPS’s motion to dismiss the complaint, finding that the discretionary-function exception to the FTCA’s waiver of sovereign immunity barred Cestonaro’s suit. Cestonaro appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Scirica, J.)

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