Sovereign immunity is a judicial doctrine that prevents the government and/or its political subdivisions, departments and agencies from being sued in a civil or criminal case, explains personal injury experts Berkowitz and Hanna LLC. For a person to be granted such immunity, he/she must be seen as acting as an arm of the government.
Although there have been cases where the government has waived this immunity, in a recent personal injury lawsuit involving Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan and his aide, the U.S. Department of Justice (representing both men) filed a motion to dismiss because “absent a waiver of sovereign immunity, the federal government is immune from suit.” The motion further states that the “Plaintiffs in this case have failed to exhaust their administrative remedies under the Federal Tort Claims Act … regarding claims properly brought against the United States.”
Paul Ryan’s current chief of staff (then press secretary at the time of the accident), Kevin Seifert, was driving the Congressman’s SUV and “acting within the scope of his employment when the motor vehicle accident occurred.” Ryan was not in the car when, on February 25, 2014, Seifert rear-ended a vehicle, allegedly injuring its driver and passenger. The men, as co-plaintiffs, are suing Seifert (and Ryan) for $50K in damages. In the claim, the plaintiffs allege that both Ryan and Seifert were negligent.
Berkowitz and Hanna LLC notes that if the motion to dismiss filed by the U.S. Department of Justice is granted, the case will not be able to proceed.
Note: Berkowitz and Hanna LLC did not represent any of the parties in this case.