Johnson v. White, No. 19-14436 (11th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, an inmate in a federal prison, filed suit against several corrections officers, the prison’s warden, and the United States, claiming that the officers restrained him, removed his clothes, and fondled his genitals and buttocks in violation of, among other things, the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The district court concluded that plaintiff failed to demonstrate that he suffered a physical injury as required by 28 U.S.C. 1346(b)(2).
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, concluding that plaintiff's argument—that allegations amounting to "sexual contact," but not a "sexual act," necessarily constitute "physical injury" within the meaning of section 1346(b)(2)—defies the FTCA's language and structure. The court also concluded separately that Congress's inclusion of the term "sexual act" in the 2013 amendment to section 1346(b)(2) implies an intention to exclude the conduct of the sort that plaintiff has alleged—"sexual contact." Therefore, plaintiff has failed to satisfy section 1346(b)(2) and his claim does not fall into the category of cases with respect to which the government has waived its sovereign immunity under the FTCA. The court noted that it does not for a moment condone the corrections officers' alleged misconduct, but rather condemned it in the strongest possible terms.