Flannery v. United States

718 F.2d 108 (1983)

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Flannery v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
718 F.2d 108 (1983)

Facts

Michael George Flannery (plaintiff) was 22 years old when he was severely injured in a car accident, rendering him permanently comatose. The other driver, who was at fault, was a federal employee on official business at the time of the accident. Flannery sued the United States (defendant) under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), and the court applied West Virginia tort law. During trial, evidence was presented that Flannery would live as long as 30 years, but during that time he would require little skilled medical care. Instead, Flannery would primarily involve the type of custodial care provided in a nursing home. Flannery was awarded $2.2 million in damages. Among other things, the award included $316,984 for future medical expenses, $535,855 for impairment of earning capacity, and $1.3 million for the loss of the ability to enjoy life. While the case was pending, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that an award for the loss of the ability to enjoy life was not punitive. The United States appealed regarding the computation of damages, arguing that the FTCA did not permit punitive-damage awards and that the award for future medical expenses was partially duplicative of the award for impairment of earning capacity.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Haynsworth, J.)

Dissent (Hall, J.)

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