Chhetri v. United States, No. 15-10644 (11th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, two survivors of a bus crash that occurred because the driver fell asleep at the wheel, filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 2680, against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Plaintiffs alleged that agency officials were at fault for allowing the bus company to continue operating after it should have been declared unsafe to do so. The case was dismissed for lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction. The court affirmed the district court's Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. 1951, analysis in its order granting summary to the United States on plaintiffs' claims. The district court correctly held that because it lacks jurisdiction to determine the validity of 49 C.F.R. 385.17(f), the district court must proceed with its discretionary function analysis based on the regulation as it stood in 2011. Therefore, the court's review is limited to the portion of plaintiffs' claims that would not require it to assume invalid the version of 49 C.F.R. 385.17(f) in effect at the time the FMCSA granted the company the ten-day extension. The court agreed with the district court's holding that the United States had not waived its immunity from suit related to the decision allowing the bus company to continue operating because that decision was a discretionary one, excepted under 28 U.S.C. 2680(a) from the United States’ waiver of sovereign immunity for certain tort actions. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.