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Begay v. United States

ELR Citation: 15 ELR 20848
Nos. No. 84-2462, 768 F.2d 1059/(9th Cir., 08/13/1985)

The court holds that the discretionary function exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act insulates federal agencies and personnel from claims by uranium miners and their heirs for failing to establish safety standards for uranium mines and to warn miners of known dangers. The court notes that the exception is not limited to regulatory decisions or to any particular level of government employee. It rules that the decisions involved, that of various agencies not to regulate safety in privately run mines and that of an official of the Public Health Service not to warn the miners of cancer risks discovered in early tests of the health effects of the radiation prevalent in uranium mines, were discretionary in nature. Furthermore, the court concludes, inquiry into the decisions would infringe on the agencies' necessary freedom to balance policy considerations in carrying out discretionary functions.

Counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellants
Stewart L. Udall
76 E. Mitchell, Phoenix AZ 85012
(602) 263-0900

Counsel for Defendant-Appellee
Mark H. Gallant, I. Avrum Fingeret
Civil Division, Dept. of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-4052

Before Canby, Jr. and Ideman,* JJ.