Young v. United States, No. 13-35287 (9th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Donna and Gerald Young and their minor daughter filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2680(a), against the United States for negligently failing to warn visitors at Mount Rainier National Park of a hazard that the National Park Service both knew of and created. Donna had fallen into a twelve-foot-deep hole that formed underneath the snow, which was created by the heat of a transformer, near the Park's main visitor center and sustained several injuries. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court concluded that the Service's decision not to warn of the latent dangers associated with the transformer was a decision "totally divorced" from the policies that the government has identified as the basis for its decision. Where, as here, warning against a hazard known to and created by the Service would not implicate concerns for access, visitor enjoyment, or environmental preservation, the only policy the Service must consider is one it appears to have ignored: visitor safety. The court concluded that the Service's decision not to warn of a hazard that it knew of and created - that it placed near a visitor center serving 1 million visitors annually - cannot be shielded by the FTCA's discretionary function exception. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.