I am one of the those personal injury lawyers who doesn’t win every case. The loss in Kohl v. United States of America is particularly difficult. First, we have a wonderful client who I truly believe has a valid claim. Second, the opinion in this case makes it very difficult for anyone to establish subject matter jurisdiction in any type of Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) case other than those arising from classic motor vehicle crashes.
Debbie Kohl, a member of the Nashville Bomb Squad, received a serious brain injury during a training exercise. While Debbie was partially inside a van looking for explosives, an ATF agent tried to wench open a door on the van, causing the van to shift and hit Debbie on the head.
We brought an FTCA claim on Debbie’s behalf, alleging that the ATF agent was negligent in his operation of the wench and in failing to warn her that he was going to use it. The Federal Government denied liability, and argued that the court did not have subject matter jurisdiction in the case because the ATF agent was engaging in a discretionary function.