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Cope v. Scott

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
45 F.3d 445 (D.C. Cir. 1995)


John Cope (plaintiff) was driving on the proper side of a two-way, two-lane scenic road maintained by the National Park Service (NPS) (defendant), when a vehicle driven by Roland Scott (defendant) slid on a rain-slick section of the road and hit Cope’s car. The road was designed for pleasure driving and was not to be used as a thoroughfare by commuters into and out of the city. Nevertheless, commuters regularly used the road for this purpose, and as a result, the road became worn and slick when wet. Cope filed suit in federal district court against Scott and the NPS, alleging that the NPS was negligent by failing to (1) appropriately and adequately maintain the road and (2) place and maintain appropriate and adequate warning signs along the road. An engineering study had concluded that the specific stretch of the road was a high-accident area and fell below acceptable skid-resistance levels. However, improvements to the road were not high on the NPS’s list of priorities. The NPS moved for summary judgment, arguing that its inaction was discretionary and exempt from suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b). The district court agreed and granted summary judgment in the NPS’s favor. Cope appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Tatel, J.)

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