Legal Question in Federal Tort Claims in New York

A Civil Litigation “Umbrella” Provision

Could the violations by multiple Media Networks [MN] be filed only against a regulatory Federal Agency [FA], especially if it is demonstrated that the agency should have (1) known (negligence?) (2) acted (“duty”) in a “corrective” way to prevent and/or stop these violations, which were committed identically by the various MN it regulates. I.e., can this lawsuit be file against this FA alone instead of either:(a) each MN individually, or (b) as multiple-defendants [M-D].

Could also the individual liability of each MN (i.e, for Punitive Damages) be claimed against the FA who would itself be responsible to seek reimbursement or payment from these networks. E.g. a MN fined for the violations of a local affiliate or onscreen participants (e.g., the FCC’s fine of CBS - Super Bowl 38). This all would be sort of “umbrella” provision for a M-D lawsuit which are under a common regulatory supervision.

Would this single filing cause the potential award of the lawsuit to be automatically limited; or could this unusual complex situation be allowed to be factored into the single lawsuit against the FA especially as this would save the courts considerable time, money and resources.

Asked on 6/17/08, 8:32 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Carlos Gonzalez Gonzalez Legal Associates PLLC

Re: A Civil Litigation “Umbrella” Provision

usually, if you file a lawsuit against one agency and in the facts you mention other companies, they will generally implead those companies into the lawsuit themselves if you do not do it... as this would then automatically limit their liability... in a position like this you are limited in scope, as to what you could sure for as well as the venue of where you can bring such a suit...

please contact my office for a free phone consultation to discuss this case and your options.

you may reach us at 212.709.8303

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Answered on 6/18/08, 11:17 am
Stephen Petix Quinton & Petix

Re: A Civil Litigation “Umbrella” Provision

It is not clear from your question what the violations you allege consist of, but it sounds like you want to sue some federal agency (FA) for failing to enforce certain federal regulations.

You will probably find that the FA will move to dismiss your suit on the ground that the decision to enforce a particular regulation against a particular apparent violator is a judgment call that is protected by the "discretionary function" immunity for such law enforcement decisions built into the Federal Tort Claims Act. (See 28 US Code, Section 2680(a).)

If the violations of federal regulations have caused you direct damage or loss, you might have a better chance suing the violators directly and alleging the violations as evidence of their wrongdoing.

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Answered on 6/19/08, 6:38 pm

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