Carroll v. United States, No. 10-1152 (1st Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
A child was seriously injured when she was hit in the head by an object thrown by a lawnmower being operated at the federal building adjoining her childcare center. Separate entities provided child care and lawn maintenance, under contract with the federal government. The district court dismissed a suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), 2671-2680. The First Circuit affirmed. While noting that the landscaping and child care operators were independent contractors, the court applied the discretionary function exception to federal liability. The agreements and their actual execution show that the government did not carve out responsibility for safety measures from its otherwise comprehensive delegation of day-to-day authority to the companies. Federal law allows the government discretion to hire independent contractors and to adopt, or not adopt, safety measures suggested by the plaintiffs.